Make your brand packaging more Earth friendly 🌎

22nd April 2021

Being designers, we love packaging, fancy finishes and foils, but we love it even more when a product or brand can shine without them. Less is more after all! As a brand you may not see yourselves as ethically savvy, but your customers may be. 

With more and more eco-friendly packaging options being developed and offered by businesses, it's important to at least evaluate whether it's possible to reduce waste within your business.

As it’s World Earth day, we got Lauren (our office eco-warrior) to write some tips on how your brand can help with the climate crisis, from paper stocks and materials to brands who's innovative packaging we love!

Let your product do the talking

Got a lovely product? Let it do the talking and have pride of place on the shelf! Ever seen a product that’s been half opened on a shelf? That’s because consumers like to see what they’re buying. Why cover it in unnecessary packaging, when you can let the customer see the entire product in all of its glory?

We love Lush’s new naked ranges, which replicate bottle shapes and have zero packaging.

If you’re not ready to get naked or have a perishable product that needs to be packaged for hygiene reasons, reduce the amount of packaging you use, or limit it to one material, saving you money in the long run and making it easier to be sorted for recycling.

You could opt for a paper belly band around your product, like Welsh company Tabitha Eve, giving you room to show off your brand and important messaging whilst letting your product do the talking. These 'kard klasps' used by Ohh Deer on their greeting card ranges are a great alternative to cellophane wrappers.

If your product is a food product, weigh up whether photography is enough to convey your product, or whether a transparent window is needed. If a window is necessary, opt for a corn starch ‘plastic’ window, or reduce the size of the window.

Think about the lifespan of your product

Plastics can take more than 400 years to degrade, so think about the lifespan of your product. Don’t get me wrong, plastic has its uses – it’s durable, but it’s also used for a lot of single use products. If you’re confident that your product is going to be around for 400 years, well done! But if it’s going to be used and then thrown away quickly, think about alternative materials, or cut back! 

Quote below - National Geographic

Use natural, easily compostable or reusable materials

  1. Cardboard - It's cheap, accessible and easy to compost or recycle. To make the recycling of your boxes even easier for the consumer, use paper tape or stickers so they don't have to be taken off before recycling or composting.
  2. Paper - It comes in so many different types, colours and textures. By choosing an uncoated or recycled paper with no lamination for your stationery, you're ensuring your packaging and branded stationery are easily recyclable. 
  3. Corn starch - Often used as an alternative to plastics, you may be most familiar with corn starch bags, used in food waste caddies. It can also be used on transparent packaging windows as an alternative to plastic, or in packing peanuts which can be dissolved in water or eaten (if you really want to!)
  4. Bamboo – As long as it is responsibly sourced, bamboo is a great alternative. It also looks nice, natural and timeless, making it great for reusing around the house.
  5. Wood pulp – Wood pulp is made with recycled paper and water and can be easily shaped. Think of the classic egg box and its timeless design!
  6. Glass - Though glass is not the most eco-friendly, in terms of production and recycling, it is still a good alternative. If it looks nice, it may also be reused to store things in such as dried food or as a candle jar.

While cardboard and paper are the better choices, materials that come from the Earth are always going to be a better option (as long as they’re sourced sustainably and responsibly),  as they can go full circle and back into the earth, rather than something man made which may only have one or two cycles of use. Gnaw chocolate (below) uses paper for its exterior packaging, and despite looking like a plastic wrapper, a fully home compostable foil on the inside, making this a product with zero waste, if you eat all the chocolate (which isn't hard).

Make it look so nice that people don’t want to throw it away

This is where we can help! Have you ever bought something and thought the packaging was so nice you didn’t want to throw it away? As designers of course, it happens to us all of the time. We're total hoarders.

Not only does branding and packaging add value to your product, it also helps with step two of the three r's “reduce, REUSE, recycle.”

Everyone knows what a toilet roll looks like – Who Gives a Crap (best name ever), are wrapped in patterned paper which not only look nice stacked in your bathroom, but make great wrapping paper or gift tissue paper. The perfect reusable.

Candles are another product that often come in containers so nice you don't want to throw them away, like this concrete-look one from WXY., an idea is to use candle jars as storage containers, or make some candles yourself - it's super easy (promise!)


Lastly, don't let it consume you! As a small business it's great if you're interested in doing your bit to make a change, but try not to burden yourselves with all of the guilt. We have a long way to go in so many aspects of the way we live, eat, consume & shop, as individuals and also as large corporations, governments and countries.

We think the fourth 'R' in Reduce, reuse, recycle should be respect! Aretha style. Respect the planet, don't be one of those fools that leaves rubbish on beaches, do what you can afford and achieve and if you do want to try and educate people about environmental issues, be respectful of their lifestyle and personal preferences - sadly not everyone is going to share your passions.

Just be a nice human!


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