Economists gave confirmed that a long-held belief is true: Your consumers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products. Sustainable businesses — or those that purport to be — outperform their wasteful competition.

In short, you can save a lot of money by spending some on environmentally-friendly packaging. This sometimes comes with a negative connotation. But eco-friendly packaging is oftentimes more cheap and effective, as well as an amazing brand signifier.

Adopting eco-friendly practices doesn’t have to break the bank. Check out these ten creative packaging ideas that show conscious customers you care.

1. Functional Features

Rather than creating packaging that ends up in a landfill, why not give it a second purpose? From cardboard boxes that unfold into stools to reusable yarn from knitted bags, the opportunities are endless.

The best part about reusable packaging is that the product stays around in your customers’ homes. It serves as a constant reminder of your brand and a conversation starter for those who haven’t yet heard of you.

This technique is well tested. The practice goes back nearly 100 years when flour companies included designs on their flour sacks, encouraging consumers to craft them into decorative clothing.

2. Packing Peanuts

Does your company still make use of packing peanuts? Then it’s time to make a switch to their new biodegradable brethren.

There’s no catch. Rather than polystyrene, these are composed of wheat and corn starch. In reality, they are basically unflavored cheese puffs.

The price difference is trivial. Best of all, biodegradable packing peanuts are superior over their predecessors since they can’t hold a charge. That means your customers won’t have to pick them off their new products. 

3. Recycled Materials

If you can’t avoid the use of harmful substances, at least don’t add to the equation. Using recycled goods can reduce your company’s carbon footprint by a dramatic margin.

And you may be surprised when you check out the expansive gamut of recycled materials. It’s more than cardboard, paper, and plastic. Some companies use things like discarded newspapers, folding them into usable product packaging.

4. Intelligent Design

Most companies lean towards substances like plastic under the false notion that it’s the only option.

Think again. Bubble wrap isn’t a necessity to ensure your fragile products arrive in one piece. The most competitive eco-friendly companies are going back to the drawing board and redesigning their 100% recycled cardboard boxes. 

Corrugated layers of thick cardboard exhibit spring-like properties, cushioning the blow just like bubble wrap. But without the waste.

For eco-friendly designs like this, your best bet is to contact a professional packaging agency.

5. Natural Fibers

Say goodbye to plastic bags. Natural fibers are the new, hip way to transport products.

In this case, we’re talking about cotton, hemp, and even certain types of palm leaves.  These sleek fibers are beautiful and striking, portraying your company’s commitment to the environment. Of course, since natural fibers are organic components, they are 100% biodegradable.

If bags aren’t your thing, you can instead mold certain types of leaves into things like plates and trays. No heavy-duty boxes though. Not yet.

6. Minimalism

You can avoid the fuss of eco-friendly packaging materials and still trim down on your carbon footprint. The secret is to use the least amount of packaging possible. 

Everyone’s first intuition is to make the packaging smaller. That’s part of the equation, but not everything. For example, does your packaging need to be enclosed?

Not likely. With a single plate of cardboard, you can shape a mold that holds your product in place but leaves plenty of open space. Adopting a minimalist method is also a great way to lighten your shipping loads and save on transportation costs.

7. Seed-Infused Packaging

The fad of plantable packaging refuses to die. Perhaps because it’s not a fad at all.

The average consumer doesn’t see the end result of eco-friendly packaging. Most of the time, they throw it away to later dissolve in a landfill. It may ease their conscience, but they are missing the full picture.

That’s why seed infusions are so powerful. By incorporating seeds in organic  packaging, consumers can plant the remnants in their yards and watch the magic happen.

8. Avoid Color

First, it should be said that inks and package coloring come in eco-friendly varieties. But your consumers won’t notice a difference, so why pay more? Even the best coloring processes can have a few troubling side effects.

For both these reasons, go colorless whenever possible. You can stamp the text directly on your packaging materials whether they be cardboard, paper, or metal.

Think of it as a type of engraving. Some products that make use of this technique may struggle to stand out on the shelves, so aisle testing is a must.

9. Organic Packaging

Cornstarch packaging can do everything plastic can — and more. After all, it’s biodegradable.

But it’s not your only organic option. Mycelium, found in the roots of mushrooms, can be molded into small plastic-like containers. Mushroom containers decompose faster than other organic options, so it’s not great for products that have a long-term shelf life. 

While it’s not yet available, keep your eyes on packaging composed of seaweed. Many pundits hold this as a breakthrough in eco-friendly packaging options.

10. Adhesive-Free

If you do anything, do this: avoid the adhesive. It’s easy to forget that adhesives and glue are toxic to the environment.

But it’s as easy to go without them. Smart, interlocking folds are the key to maintaining package stability while forgoing the need to have something sticky holding it all together.

Save the Environment With Creative Packaging Ideas

If your company is serious about helping the environment, these creative packaging ideas are a great way to get started. And if not, that’s okay too. Statistics show your business will profit by taking an eco-friendly approach to its practices.

In either case, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Want to go green at a personal or corporate level? Search our site for more environmentally-sound advice.