A recent seed order from a "green" seed company came in a standard bubble pack - which I will reuse to ship some sample Food Forest cards. But part of me felt a little let down - and at the same time enlightened. Now I knew what I wasn't going to do when it came time to ship my own items.
So I went searching for recycled and compostable mailer envelopes. I got online and quickly found a great little company called EcoEnclose. Even their website comes in a brown wrapper (ha ha)!
|EcoEnclose is a great, recycled packaging company|
I don't want to be a downer at all. I love these compostable envelopes. But any time you produce a product, even from recycled materials, there is a cost - and not just a price-tag cost but, also, an environmental cost, including what we call a "carbon footprint". EcoEnclose has tackled several issues by using recycled, compostable materials. No trees are being cut down to make their packaging - and that is great! It appears that they use solar electricity to produce at least some of their products; they are probably great to their employees; and their products are somewhat less likely to find their way into the landfill. Win-win-win-win! But there is still a carbon footprint, and if you can reduce it you should.
Here are the issues as I see them:
- Manufacturing footprint: repurposing all of those recycled materials into a new product has an environmental cost.
- Shipping footprint: the envelopes would need to be shipped at least two ways: from EcoEnclose to me and then from me to my customers. And the cardboard and newsprint has to be collected and delivered to their manufacturing facility - which is perhaps a necessary evil until we can figure out how to eliminate packaging altogether.
- Product price: as much as I really want to support great companies like this, I have to watch my own budget. It costs money to buy these envelopes, and making money usually creates a bigger footprint.
So I got out my industrial, manual paper-cutter and started measuring some cardboard boxes. It was not long before I realized that, with a little tape, I could quickly fashion a wrap-around package for my playing cards that was almost precisely the same dimensions as the packaging I was considering buying. I don't like the packing tape part, but EcoEnclose has a product that will soon solve this dilemma for me: Water Activated Kraft Paper Tape. When I place my next order with them, I'm going to give this a test!
So I will be sending out my samples in my own upcycled envelopes and asking for feedback. If you are a reviewer and receive this makeshift package, please let me know what you think. And please excuse the plastic packing tape. Hopefully that's only a temporary solution.
Upcycling may not be practical on a large scale. I have already ordered EcoEnclose packaging and expect to be ordering more. But when I have the time to upcycle my cardboard, I'll definitely be doing that, too!