"It's just so disappointing to see polystyrene in the box..." Was a comment that dropped in to our inbox late one evening. It proved to be the moment we realised we weren't communicating our packaging policy well enough to our customers.
Since the first few parcels we ever despatched back in 2015, we have been proactively avoiding plastic packaging. From paper tape, to recycled newspaper off-cuts, we are always on the hunt for creative, beautiful and environmentally sound packaging solutions.
Something we use a huge amount of is loose packaging chips made from puffed starch. They resemble anaemic Wotsits but provide excellent protection for fragile items, which make up the vast majority of our products. The eco-flow, as it’s known, is made in a low energy, single stage process that uses steam to puff starch. It is classified as an annual renewable resource and the chips can be stored for re-use, composted in either domestic or municipal system or washed away with warm water, eliminating the risk of littering.
All of these remarkable virtues were abundantly clear to us, as we handle the product everyday, but that one message from a customer made us realise that its similarity to polystyrene was causing trouble.
“It’s just so disappointing to receive the items in a box filled with polystyrene and I’m shocked that a company like yours would still use this for packaging!” Read the message we received on Instagram from a customer who had received their first order. Our hearts sank as we typed the reply to explain that the packing chips were in fact environmentally sound and that it was a misunderstanding. Upon discussions with the team we realised that we were letting ourselves down by not properly explaining what was inside each parcel.
We also realised that for every customer who took the time to get in touch with us to voice their concern, we were probably not hearing from lots more who had come to the same conclusion and just decided to never order from us again.
So it was decided that we would create a small information card to include with parcels, in the hope that it would combat anybody mistaking our fantastic packaging for something more sinister. There is, of course, the argument that it would be better to not have to include another piece of paper in to the parcel. We weighed up the options and it was felt that the chance to educate and encourage responsible disposal and reuse of the packaging was more important.
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Each parcel we post will now include one of these! We’ve had a few customers mistake our loose packing chips for polystyrene (as if! 😨) so we thought it would be handy to include some info. The reverse is blank so they can be re-used for lists, notes or doodles! 📝 #plasticfreepackaging
The card details each packaging component we use and how best they can be recycled or reused. All of our cardboard boxes are sourced from FSC certified sources and we use green Jiffy bags which are filled with recycled macerated paper instead of bubble wrap. We work with a tape manufacturer who prints our packing tape with vegetable inks, the tape is also recyclable so can be left on boxes. The paper we use to line boxes and wrap fragile items is in fact newspaper off-cuts made from recycled paper. When it comes to ribbons and string we use either paper or pure cotton options to ensure they can biodegrade. Although we hope they will be reused.
We hear again and again about how important it is to our customers that we operate responsibly and with the environment in mind. It wouldn’t occur to us to put profit before the environment and, encouragingly, the cost of greener packaging options is becoming more in line with the mainstream options.