This post originally appeared on the JustGreen Community website.
Eco-friendly gifts for family and friends are a great way to introduce them to your new, eco-conscious, earth-loving lifestyle. You may have a clever idea or two about what to give this year, but have you thought about the packaging materials for your mailers? Don’t ruin your eco-friendly gifts with wasteful plastic or packaging made from Styrofoam that will end up in your local landfill. Instead, opt for green packaging materials that prove to be sustainable (and more creative!).
Eco-Friendly Packaging Tape. You can find some brands contain up to 75% recycled materials. Some stores even offer eco-friendly bubble wrap made from the same eco-friendly stuff.
Mushroom Stems. Interesting AND innovative, right? Mushroom stems are processed into a product that acts like Styrofoam. This mushroom-based product functions as an encasement for gifts made of glass or for other items that cannot be compromised during the shipping process. It’s a great packaging material because it’s biodregrable and can be used as compost or mulch, too.
Bamboo. Like mushroom stems, bamboo works as a cushion. Bamboo protects tech gadgets, glass products and any items that might suffer damage in the shipping process. Did you know: At Dell Computers, they use bamboo to protect many of their lightweight products, such as laptops.
Corrugated Boxes Made from PCW. PCW stands for post-consumer waste and includes recycled cans, scrap aluminum, recycled cardboard, etc. Boxes made of PCW are a great way to ship your eco-conscious gifts.
Tree-Free Paper. Tree-free paper is made from a variety of plant fibers, including cotton, lokta, Areca Palm leaf and Zebra Bamboo. It is used in many products that are eco-friendly and sustainable, and it is perfect for gift wrapping and packaging.
Recycle Magazines, Newspapers and Tissue Paper. For packaging and stuffing boxes, use old newspapers and magazines that you plan to throw away. Add color to your gifts. Use the tissue paper and shredded magazines to form a nest around the items inside their eco-friendly box. Keep our planet clean and free from harmful waste, while still adding a pop of color to your gifts.
Coconuts. According to Inhabitat, “Not only do coconuts survive falling from heights of 50 feet to the ground (landing on anything from cushy golf courses to lava rock), but they also often travel thousands of miles via ocean waves, still perfectly protected.” A coconut is a creative, unique way to package small items. It’s also a totally biodegradable package produced with free energy from the sun and water.
Reusable, Cloth Totes and Scarves. Cloth totes are a great way to keep items secure. Wrap your gift inside a tote or scarf for a gift that keeps on giving. After the gift is opened, the recipient can use the tote for grocery shopping, going to the market, or even as a gym bag. Scarves will obviously do double duty in keeping their new owner warm and protected from the elements.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with our recommended green packaging materials, make a day out of it: Invite friends over and have fun painting recycled shoe boxes, shredding papers, and collecting mushroom stems. Whichever green packaging material you decide to use, remember that there are endless ways to make it your own, without spending a lot of money or having to buy new.