Getting To Know Copper & Holly - Packaging and Our Commitment to the Environment
Buying and selling online isn't something that was in our immediate plans for our Christmas shop, but after knowing the threat of lockdowns was very real during Autumn Winter 2020, we knew it was something that we had to adapt to do in the event of a possible forced closure. But the push to shopping online has a major drawback: the impact it's having on the environment around us, with huge increases in packaging waste and vehicles on the road.
Whilst buying online is very firmly here to stay, we've vowed at Copper & Holly to not put cost before environmental welfare with regard to our packaging, and we've outlined here what we do to contribute to this growing problem. We've also given you a couple of suggestions about how you can reuse some of this increasing packaging entering our homes.
Our Packaging - White 'Wotsits'
We get an awful lot of packaging sent to us by our suppliers, some items being packed up to 4 times! And whilst we don't get many polystyrene chips, those we do get are reused and sent out in your parcels to act as space filler. This is so that items don't move about and get broken in your box whilst in transit. These polystyrene ones tend to be shiny, and are about the length of a drawing pin.
We buy something similar to this, which we call white 'wotsits'. These are bigger, about the size of my thumb, and look just like the crisps, except being white. They also have a slightly smell to them, similar to prawn crackers. These are made from rice husks, the shellings from the rice that we eat, which has historically been a waste product. In the last 5 years, these rice husks now form the basis of many a product, including our filling packaging.
These wotsits are not only sustainable, they're also recyclable and biodegradable.
How you can help: You can reuse these many times, but once they get wet you'll notice that they shrivel up and become quite hard. This is the time to send them to packaging heaven by either putting them in your compost bin, food waste or recycling.
Our packaging - Tissue Paper
Tissue paper is a staple in almost every shop, as it helps to stop items from being scratched whilst in transit. We use a lot of tissue in the shop, and with our online orders, so it's important that it is fully recyclable (not all of it is). Not only this, the plain white tissue paper that we use has been made from recycled paper sources.
How you can help: Tissue paper can be reused again and again. Wrap items that need protection when in storage (such as Christmas tree decorations), great for house moves, or for acting as space fillers in your own parcels. Once you've reused it past its best, you can recycle this in your paper recycling, or pop in your compost bin.
Our Packaging - Boxes and Tape
The number of boxes that we use up between mine and my husband's business is huge, and so all of the boxes that my suppliers send us at Christmas gets used up very easily during the first half of the year. You may well notice in fact that some of the boxes your parcels come in have been reused, especially the smaller boxes to hold the breakable items.
The boxes that we buy in tend to be for specific sizes that don't get delivered often to us, but we need. These brand new ones are 80% recycled.
Despite being over 6 times more expensive than its vinyl counterpart, the paper tape that we use on our boxes is fully recyclable and comes from renewable sources. When we buy from certain suppliers, we're also contributing to the Women and Environment charity in Africa.
How you can help: Cardboard boxes are incredibly useful for posting your own parcels (great for the eBay sellers amongst you!), for storage, especially for kids odds and sods such as crayons, or lego bits. We also use them on our garden. You'd need to remove any vinyl/plastic tape that you may have on boxes, but these make great coverings for vegetable beds. Stopping the weeds growing up through them in the spring, and keeping the beds warmer during the winter has never been so easy! Cardboard boxes can also be recycled, and composted (again, remove any plastic tape that may be present).
Our Packaging - Bubble Wrap
This is not something we buy. as disposing of this is through landfill only. But we get sent a lot of it out from our suppliers because without a doubt, it is great for protecting any breakable object, of which we receive thousands. If your parcel is sent out with bubble wrap, it's been reused.
How you can help: Whilst I know popping bubble wrap is one of the most satisfying things you can do (especially if you're in a bad mood), the better thing is to keep it until you need it for posting your own items. If you don't post much, and you have more than you need, pop a post on your local facebook community, and I'll bet there's a business or eBay seller out there who'll be very grateful for it.
Our Packaging - Mailer Bags
it can be difficult to know with mailing bags, as there has now started to appear on the market some that are made from recycled materials, and can in fact be recycled. The ones we use fall into this category, and we will during the year get some stickers printed so that you know they can be recycled.
These are great because they are made from recycled polythene, rather than a virgin source of plastic, so is another product we use that is made from waste product.
How you can help: Sadly, these products cannot be reused, but you can put these into your recycling waste.
The packaging that we all use needs to be carefully considered as we increase the amount we do online. Whilst you can't influence how business use packaging, you can directly influence how it gets used after. And if you have a different use for any of these products that we haven't mentioned, we'd love to hear from you!
- Annabelle Summerfield