I went into my local Post Office the other day, and asked how much for recycled jiffy bags. Their answer was "We don't stock those, but our standard ones are 33p each". My answer was, "Thank you, but ahh, nevermind".
It may be a very short (and not particularly interesting) story, but having something to gauge what I'm about to say always helps. There seems to be a common misconception amongst people, sellers in particular, that going green is more expensive than using packaging products that cost the environment - not true, in my experience. I buy my jiffy bags in bulk from a company called Exotic Paper Trading. They're recycled (apart from the glue down strip) and cost me 27.5p each. I get my paper from them too, also bought in bulk, which works out more expensive than supermarkets own, but it's Fairtrade, environmentally friendly, my customers love the green ethic and the novelty of paper made from elephant dung (that's right, elephant dung) has yet to wear off.
I re-use as much as possible. Recycling is a good thing, don't get me wrong it's better than throwing stuff away, but the recycling process still uses up energy, emitting carbon and leeching pollutants into the environment. Not as many as making stuff from scratch, but they're still there. So I have been known to ship toys to my customers in a Flymo box. I wrap delicate goods in plastic bags from shopping trips where I forgot to take the Eco-bag. I use my shredded documents as padding for figures and boxsets. How much do these things cost me? Nothing. I've actually gained repeat custom and some cracking feedback because of it.
In the current climate, going green is the in-fashion thing to do. Customers are aware of green issues, and want to do their part to help, though opportunities aren't publicised enough. Something small, like eco-friendly packaging, goes a long way to help the environment and makes people feel good. It works out well for businesses to save money and to gain access to grants for environmentally sound practices - and there are some out there. It also brings repeat custom, which is always a good thing.
Top Tips For Saving Money (While being Green)
1. Don't bin boxes! They can be re-used as packaging, cut to size if they're too big, and after their journey they can be recycled too!
2. Ditto for carrier bags! Most councils refuse to recycle plastics, but reusing the bags as much as possible helps, and saves money on expensive bubblewrap.
3. Ask local stores for packaging. All those baked beans tins stacked on your local food stores shelves probably arrived in cardboard boxes. Shops get inundated with packaging so many are quite happy to hand some over to whoever will take it off their hands.
4. Same with supermarkets, ASDA are particularly good for this, as they support small groups as Investors In People (it's an award scheme that shows they help local communities). Try asking, the worse they can say is "no", and it'll always be polite, that's what they have customer service reps for!
5. Re-use shredded documents. Makes a great packaging material, spreading the shocks from knocks and bumps around and absorbing the worst of it. Best of all, it's free!
6. Buy recycled packaging. Often it can be cheaper than buying your usual packaging.
7. Tell your customers. Let them know you're going green, and that your packaging can be recycled/reused at their end too. You may get repeat customers, and it'll help you stand out in their memory for doing something different.
And that's my going green guide to packaging over - I don't cover much, but I hope I've given you some ideas for saving the planet and saving yourself some money! I use a few websites, but due to eBay policy I obviously can't mention their links, however you can find me on eBay as BOBii-TV if you want to know more. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Skype me on 0161 408 1111 from a phone or as BOBii-TV on the web - it's free!