So Much Cardboard - some thoughts on sustainability when running an online store

Posted by Samantha Drury Shore on

When you start your own business, you have a number of goals. These vary wildly for each person of course, but some might include wanting to be your own boss, working in a field you are passionate about, improving your work/life balance (good luck with that last one)...

Planner, notebook and pencil

Our main goal was to create a destination lifestyle store, somewhere that were we to stumble across it ourselves, we'd be screaming "take my money" whilst dashing about adding items to our cart like we're on Supermarket Sweep. I feel like we've achieved this goal pretty well. 

Pretty high on the list after this was to ensure that our business was as sustainable as it possibly could be from an environmental perspective. Short of reusing teabags, not flushing the loo or not starting the business at all, we feel like we're doing the best we can. There's definitely room for improvement though. 

Recycling logo

I thought I'd use this blog post to outline a few of the steps we have taken (mainly with packaging) and share some of the suppliers/materials we have found. As I said, we're looking to continually improve on this, suggestions are absolutely welcome, so please do comment!

Office - we've gone as paperless as possible. It's easier than you think. About to print something? Stop. Think, do I actually need a physical copy of this on a piece of dead tree? No? Turn the printer off, name your file sensibly and save it somewhere logical. Job done. Obviously, the printer paper that we do use is FSC certified, and our electricity comes from 100% renewable sources.  

Minimalist office with tall window

(this isn't our office, btw, more's the pity)

Cardboard boxes - another fairly easy one. We sourced ours from Davpack. They're biodegradeable, recycled (around 75%), and of course, recyclable.

Paper tape - this one involves some investment, but we're super-pleased with the results. Paper tape is the eco option (as opposed to plastic-based materials), as it can be recycled together with your boxes. It also looks lovely, especially when you have it custom printed with your design as we did. Our supplier for this was Watershed Packaging.  

White Black Grey branded paper tape

We also use plain paper tape for making up the boxes. The branded stuff is just for the final seal!

Bubble wrap - back to Davpack again - they supply biodegradable bubble wrap! Woohoo! Not the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world, but fragile goods need protecting, and so does the planet. 

Bubble Envelopes - perhaps not the brand that first springs to mind, but Mail Lite bubble envelopes are made using FSC certified paper. Can't argue with that!  

White Black Grey branded tissue paper

Branded Tissue Paper - Here's another pretty thing! Our branded tissue paper from No Issue is printed on FSC certified paper using soy based inks. The print quality is fab too. The only slight downside on this one is that it is coming from China (not a problem in itself, but not ideal from a carbon footprint POV). 

White Black Grey branded tissue paper

Plain tissue paper - back to the no-brainers. Recycled and recyclable, in a lovely range of colours (though just black and grey for us of course!). From The Tiny Box Company

Thanks for your order Postcards - we ordered these from print wizards, Moo. Their standard 350gsm board comes from sustainable sources and is Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF). Don't these look hot:

White Black Grey Postcard with scissors and washi tape

White Black Grey Postcard close-up

White Black Grey Postcard Reverse with Land Chocolate

For larger orders, our Thanks for Your Order cards are packed with free chocolate - yummy!

Business Cards - Lastly, but my no means, uh, leastly, our business cards are also from Moo. Branding is really important to us and we are full on paper geeks, so it had to the the Luxe range, really. These are printed on Mohawk Superfine paper, which is FSC certified. 

White Black Grey Business Cards

White Black Grey Business Cards

So, here's a dilemma we've not solved yet... we have a veritable mountain of used cardboard boxes that packaged all of our incoming stock. Feel free to boo and hiss, but the look of our packaging is too important for us to be able to reuse these boxes and send them out for our customer orders (I know, cognitive dissonance central, right?).

If we take these to the local tip, they will be recycled, so that's good, but we'd like to think they could have more 'lives' in them than that... any thoughts? And yes, we will keep some aside to build a rocket for our toddler. 


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