Traditional packaging materials are a significant contributor to landfills everywhere. With so many people ordering items online these days, the problem is only getting worse. Packaging is problematic because companies often overuse it. How many times have you opened up a large package only to discover the item was much smaller than the box it was placed in? It happens frequently!
Even when packaging is not overused, it’s usually made from non-recyclable, non-biodegradable materials. All too often, companies are guilty of “greenwashing.” This means they give the public a false impression that their items are more environmentally-friendly than they truly are. But if the company is using traditional non-recyclable packaging, they are only harming the environment.
Fortunately, there are alternatives! These innovative, eco friendly packaging materials will keep your products safe without harming the environment. And they look amazing as well!
13 Best Eco Friendly Packaging Materials
Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
Regular packing peanuts can be frustrating to deal with, but they help keep fragile items safe in the shipping process. Biodegradable packing peanuts serve this same purpose, but they won’t end up in a landfill. They are made from natural substances like wheat and corn starch.
After they are no longer needed, you can add them to your compost. They even dissolve in water! As a bonus, biodegradable packing peanuts don’t have the same bad habit of sticking to clothing.
Another way fragile items are kept safe during transport is with Styrofoam, which is only sometimes recyclable. One great natural alternative is mushroom-based packaging. Companies like Ikea are quickly catching on to the wonders of mushroom packaging. This compostable packaging is a unique mixture of hemp fiber and mycelium.
Foam packaging can also be made from corn! This foam is sturdy, able to withstand shock and vibration to keep your cargo safe. It’s perfect for stabilizing and cushioning your items. Corn foam is compostable and biodegradable packaging.
Food packaging is a considerable problem that produces massive amounts of waste every year. That’s why seaweed packaging is so amazing! This type of packaging is unique because it’s not only a biodegradable packaging material, but it’s also edible. It’s ideal for loose food items such as tea or crackers.
At first glance, seaweed packaging looks like a thin plastic material with a green tint, but it’s much better than plastic! When you use this packaging for your food items, you won’t have to worry about the packaging ending up in our oceans, harming our planet.
Plastic-Free Food Packaging
Seaweed packaging might not always be the best solution for storing food. Luckily, plastic-free food packaging is becoming more and more common. For example, Earthpouch is a plastic-free packaging made from a renewable material source. It resists water, grease, and all kinds of moisture, making it suitable for liquid and dry food items. It can also be recycled as part of the paper stream.
In recent years, reusable shopping bags have increased in popularity. Organic fabric is the most eco-friendly way to package your groceries. The most popular organic fabric is cotton. It’s free of pesticides and GMOs. Not only does this make it safe for the farmers but also the environment as a whole. Organic fabric bags can also be used for other things such as storage, travel, and gift wrap.
Paper is an integral part of packaging. And the best type of paper is acid-free paper that’s made without lignin or sulfur! Unlike with other papers, all the wastewater and byproducts used to make this paper can be recycled. The paper itself is also able to be easily recycled, making it the most environmentally-friendly option!
All those bubble mailers you send and receive may not seem like a significant waste contributor because of their small size. But don’t be fooled: even smaller forms of packaging add up and make a substantial impact on the environment. Corn mailers are the ideal natural alternative! Of course, they’re made from corn and completely compostable. They can also be purchased in multiple sizes to fit different needs.
Cassava Starch Packaging
You may not have heard of the cassava root before. It’s a tuberous starch vegetable that isn’t very popular for eating, but it can be used to make some killer eco-friendly packaging. This biodegradable material dissolves in water. Bags made from the cassava root are the perfect alternative to plastic produce bags.
Corrugated Cardboard Bubble Wrap
Some people enjoy popping bubble wrap for stress relief. Unfortunately, though, bubble wrap is doing more harm than good to the planet. It’s made from plastic and pollutes our oceans.
Corrugated cardboard bubble wrap is far superior! It may not look anything like bubble wrap, but it serves the same purpose without harming the environment. This type of packaging is made from recycled cardboard. The packaging itself can be either recycled or biodegraded.
Plantable packaging is one of the more unique kinds of packaging. You may have bought a plant that comes in a biodegradable container for easy outdoor gardening. But plantable packaging is even better because it’s for all kinds of items! It has seeds embedded in the packaging. If it ends up in the ground, it will produce some gorgeous flowers or delicious herbs!
Packaging made from Leaves
Even leaves can be turned into recyclable or biodegradable packaging materials! This bottle is the first of its kind: a reusable paper bottle. It’s an innovative solution that works well for liquid or dry materials. It even looks great!
Another consideration is not just the type of packaging you use but also what goes on the packaging you use. Any stickers you put on your packaging and even the ink you write with on your packaging could harm the environment. One fantastic alternative is algae ink, which is made from algae cells. It’s the best type of ink to go on your recyclable or compostable packaging.