Giant Box, Tiny Purchase, and other Ecofriendly Shipping Woes.

After using a random number generator to select the first few winners of Green Giveaways, I realized…shoot! How should I ship this stuff? I was inspired by the way the partners had chosen reused, recycled, and recyclable packaging.

I decided to look into what would be the most eco friendly way to ship something. In our society, the pressure is frequently placed on the recipient to take care of recycling. But, if I wanted these to be truly green giveaways, I felt I should make it as simple as possible for the winner to dispose of the packaging.

Here were some of my considerations:

  1. Space

Have you ever gotten a box from an online retailer that is just WAY too big for the one item they placed inside? Yes. We all have. This is bad for a few reasons (including cost to the shipper).

First, think of all the extra material used to ship to you. Extra box space means extra trees.


Second, think of the extra space that item took up in the cargo plane, truck, car, boat. That’s excess fossil fuels burned en route.

If you fit packaging to the item, it is more environmentally friendly and economical.

2.) Material

How recyclable are recyclable packaging materials? Something I have learned recently is that there is a difference between recyclable and ‘you can put this in your recycling bin’.

Plastic provide protection from the elements. However, some plastic packaging is easily recycled and some isn’t. Plus, I can’t control how shipping materials are disposed of once it is dropped in the mailbox.

Paper is easily recyclable. But, it does not provide protection from the elements. There are less options for padding for small items. For larger items. using a box with paper tape is a viable option.

Paper outside with bubble padding is a good option because these envelopes are made from recycled materials. By buying items made from recycled materials we create a market for recyclable waste which incentivizes a circular economy.

3.) Mailing labels

Recyclable plastic bubble packs are generally recyclable if you take the mailing label off…ok? Who is going to be able to get the stamp, mailing label and any tape residue off in order to recycle?

Recyclable water based labels are a thing. Also, handwriting on a paper package also seemed like a viable option.  Would this be environmentally equivalent to permanent marker on the plastic packaging? I’m not sure. It seems like avoiding plastic where possible is the best choice.

So what did I decide?  

For more hearty stuff, I decided on eco mailers without padding. It is essentially cardstock (paper) which should be recyclable or compostable. If I write the address or use a recyclable label, it won’t matter. The recipient will be able to toss the whole thing in the recycling bin.  As far as space is concerned, this was the best way to ship relatively flat items without excess space.

For more fragile stuff…that is yet to be determined.I am leaning towards using spare newspaper to pad the items or wrapping it in canvas tote bags. So those winners might get a bonus gift. Luckily, none of the items thus far are faberge eggs.

If you are interested in being a shipping supplies sponsor for Green Giveaways or have additional questions, write me at SarahRyan@sincerelysailing.com.