The Packaging Conundrum:
Packaging is something any company thinks about. How does it look, how does it feel, how does it represent the company as a whole? If you're an eCommerce business, the package you send is in many cases the first physical interaction a customer has with you.
Packaging also creates a lot of waste. Once a person gets their goods, they usually end up throwing the packaging away. It might look nice, but they didn't order a box or bag, after all...
In shipping hats, we looked at how a lot of other companies shipped. Some had nice plastic liners they placed the hat in. Others used Styrofoam packing peanuts as padding. We saw immediately that for something like a hat, these things were not needed and could be done away with. We immediately decided that hats would never be sent with a plastic bag nor any type of packing peanuts or extra padding. The hat boxes we use are also made of 100% recycled material, and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified. The boxes are also 100% recyclable.
Shirts are a little different than hats when it comes to shipping. Generally, if a shirt is ordered by itself, it goes into a poly-mailer. These are very thin plastic bags that are perfect for shipping soft items. The problem we found is that it is a mechanism for creating more plastic waste. More plastic that ends up potentially in the landfills. We began to look for a new solution and came across the following:
100% Recycled Material mailers: These are as the description states; mailers made from 100% post-consumer goods. We loved these eco-minded mailers, though the con is that while it creates something from waste, it still creates what would eventually be discarded packaging, albeit packaging that could be re-recycled. Could there be another option?
100% plant-based compostable mailers: So far, this looks like a viable, real solution to our plastics problem. Made from corn, these are fully compostable and degrade within 90 days in a composte facility or landfill and in about 6 months in a personal compost area (compare that to ~1000 years for a regular plastic bag). While we were a bit skeptical at first, we were assured that they will fully degrade in a landfill.
The Decision: We felt either option would be a drastic step forward in the fight to reduce more plastics. There are no "perfect" solutions (that is until we invent order teleportation and can send an order with zero packaging instantly!) Both have their pros and cons, but in the end, we decided on the 100% corn-based compostable material option (as if you couldn't tell by the image above). This will be implemented in all orders beginning June 21st, 2019 and moving forward.
The standard plastic mailer is FAR cheaper than these eco-friendly alternatives. We could save a lot in hard costs by simply going the standard, status-quo route. Doing this does not fit our brand nor our why. We knew we had to do something to minimize our impact and be an example for change, even if that meant a little more added to our bottom line. Rest assured, the added cost is not something we pass on to our dear customers. We believe in our why and messaging while also keeping our products both high in quality and affordable - if something helps to save this place we live on and reduce our impact, we'll gladly eat the cost.
On that note, these mailer bags certainly shouldn't see their end once they serve their first purpose. Reuse the bag for groceries, reuse it as a garbage sack while on the trail to hold litter - plenty of options to reuse and re-purpose!