Reducing Waste as a Business Owner

Reducing waste in my business and home has been something I've been trying to implement more and more lately. It got to the point where I was so sick of all the plastic I was sending out in the world knowing that the customer just throws it away once they get their items. 

Paper bags and product without extra plastic

Here are just some of the things I need for packaging orders: 

  • Sleeves for cards (both plastic and paper)
  • Sleeves for prints
  • Mailers
  • Sturdy cardboard
  • Boxes for ornaments, and larger orders
  • etc.

"You can't do all the good the world needs; but the world needs all that good that you can do."

So here are some ways that I have personally used to reduce waste in my small business.

Ways I've Reduced Waste In My Business 

Reusing Items From Our Military Move

When you move with the military, they pack everything for you (sounds nice, but it's actually really frustrating - but that's another topic lol). But because they don't want to be held liable for breaking anything, they pack soooo much paper into every box. When we were unpacking, I realized that I didn't want to let all of that cardboard and paper go to waste. I spent literal days cutting boxes up so I could use those for my 5x7 prints to add some extra protection when mailing. 

The paper that they give you isn't the cutest or most "on-brand", but I cut it down and saved a whole stack that didn't look too wrinkled and I use that for packing ornaments or whenever I need to add space to a package. 

In the picture below, you can see this paper at the very bottom. 

Reusing Items From Amazon Purchases

Shipping boxes and supplies in cabinet

This is a big one for me! Since we live in a small town and shopping is 2 hours away, I do a lot more online shopping now than ever before. I save all of the plastic air things, bubble wrap, boxes... any and everything I think I can use for shipping. When I send out wholesale orders, I will use whatever boxes I have on hand... whether that be a USPS box or an Amazon box. At the end of the day, the person opening it wants what's inside and not the box. Maybe it'll even inspire them to reuse it, too! 

As you can see from the picture above, a lot of these supplies have come from Amazon orders. I also use boxes from USPS since their boxes are made from post-consumer waste (and they're free). Win-win!

Cutting Back on Plastic Use

Paper bags and product without extra plastic

This is one I strive to continue to get better at, but I wholesale my products to brick and mortar stores. And the standard for greeting cards is that they come packaged in a clear sleeve, which sucks because the consumer throws them away when they get home. (ps. yes I know there are recyclable plastic sleeves, but I've heard that they break down into tiny little pieces of micro-plastics and are basically the same as the one I'm currently using)

However, one thing I can do is stop putting my cards or stickers in plastic when I send them to customers from my website or Etsy. The alternative to just sticking the card in the mailer, is that I have these paper bags that I put cards and stickers inside of. So I can keep my packaging looking pretty, but not feel guilty about all that wasted plastic. 

Some Other Quick Ways to Waste Less

  • Use reusable tote bags when you go shopping instead of getting tons of plastic bags
  • Turn off and unplug your electronics when not in use
  • Recycle all of your paper (I recycle paper from my business more than anything else!)
  • Use reusable water bottles (whether you work at home, or at a "normal" job this is so easy to do!)
  • Use double sided printing when available
  • Take ink cartridges to stores that recycle them (they often give you money for doing this too!)
  • Use the back of test prints or other scrap paper for notes or lists

Tell me in the comments if you have any other ideas, I'd love to hear them!  

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