Developing personal, environmentally friendly habits has been a struggle, but it’s even harder as a business. From packaging woes to shipping problems, being an eco-friendly business is something that I’m working towards.
I’m sure other businesses are also struggling. So, I wanted to share the five things I’ve learned thus far with all of you! To learn more, just keep scrolling.
1. Recyclable/Compostable Packaging
We all know how bad single-use plastics are for the planet; but, recyclable or compostable packaging can be costly for a new business to buy in bulk.
I was in the exact situation when I started Thoughtfully Handmade. I wanted to avoid single-use plastic, especially since I try my best to do so in my personal life. However, I didn’t know where to buy those supplies, and even when I found a few sites, those products didn’t work for shipping and packaging handmade cards.
Luckily, I did find some great sleeve alternatives. The first option is to not use sleeves at all. This only works at markets when you’re the one selling, though.
The next alternative is compostable sleeves. For that one, I would have something that says the sleeve is compostable, so customers aren’t confused. That’s not my favourite option, though, because most cities have no or limited composting programs.
The third option is something I’ve done before, which is to wrap a strip of paper around it like this:
It’s not my favourite because it covers up some of the design and it gets tedious to do. However, it is the most customizable in terms of sizing options!
The last one is the one I’m considering right now, and it’s called Kard Klasp. Basically, it’s a small sticker-like binding that holds your card and envelope together!
As for shipping, I couldn’t use regular, thin compostable mailer bags like these from Noissue because I don’t want my cards to be bent during shipping. So, I found this padded envelope made from recycled newspapers instead.
2. Supporting Sustainability Non-Profit Organizations
Another great way to be an environmentally friendly business is to support sustainability-focused non-profit organizations like the Toronto Environmental Alliance. They lobby and work with the city of Toronto to ensure our city implements more sustainable policies to create a greener Toronto.
I donate 10 cents from every product purchased to them to help with operation costs! It’s a great way to ensure change is being made even if you can’t do as much as you’d like with your business practices.
If you don’t live in Toronto, here are some other local environmental charities non-profits you can support:
- The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
- Bruce Trail Conservancy
- Nature Conservancy Canada
- Eco Trust Canada
- David Suzuki Foundation
- Environmental Defence
- Animal Alliance of Canada
3. Reducing Waste & Managing Waste Properly
We all know the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. What you might not know is that the 3 R’s are listed in order of priority. You should always look to reduce and reuse before recycling. However, people are mostly focused on the last one.
As a business owner, I urge you to think about reducing waste and managing it properly before thinking about recycling things, and that includes packaging! I’m not faultless in this, especially since I make paper products!
The important thing is I try my best to waste as little of the paper I use as possible. Often, I have scraps of paper that are practically unusable, but I still keep it because I think I can always use it for something!
As for managing waste, make sure you know exactly what can and can’t be recycled or compostable. If a batch gets messed up and something non-recyclable or non-compostable gets in there, they just throw out the entire batch. Most of the things that we throw in the recycling don’t even get recycled!
Toronto has an excellent Waste Wizard tool, and the Peel Region has one too. I’m sure your region or municipality has one also! Make sure to only look at the one for your area because waste management policies differ with every region/municipality.
I do have to mention that if you have a commercial space, you probably have to deal with your waste through a private company. I have no idea about their policies, unfortunately!
4. Buying Supplies in Bulk
Just like buying food in bulk, buying supplies in bulk helps too! I still go to Michaels for my pattern paper, but I’m trying to find another supplier! Speaking of, I recently found a cardstock supplier, but I haven’t ordered from them yet, so I don’t want to recommend them until I do.
By buying in bulk, there is less packaging and shipping involved in your order. However, don’t buy more then you can use! Then it just goes to waste, and that defeats the purpose!
5. Re-Using Materials
I quickly wanted to touch upon the second R- reuse. If you can’t repurpose something in your home or business, perhaps someone else can. That’s why I love using trading apps like BUNZ.
Unlike Kijiji or eBay, the items can’t be bought with money but with things to trade. Thus, you get rid of something you don’t need and gain something you do, and the other person does the same! I’ve traded some of my cards for things before, and it works really well!
I hope these 5 tips are helpful in your eco-friendly or zero waste journey! Honestly, besides the packaging one, these tips are all applicable to non-business owners. If you want to kickstart your zero waste journey or help someone start theirs, check out my Zero Waste Gift Guide!