Since 2016, the number of Americans who put fighting climate change as a top priority has increased from 38% to 52%.

Activists have encouraged the public to ditch plastic shopping bags, swap to bamboo toothbrushes, and stop using single-use plastic bottles.

But how do we “go green” and cut costs when shipping? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about the cheapest shipping boxes and how they can help the environment.

1. Pack Small and Light  

Looking for the cheapest way to ship small items?

Companies base shipping charges on the weight of the package or its dimensional weight. This means a heavier product will be cheaper to ship than one that weighs less but takes up more space.

When you’re shipping small items, pack them in a box with a smaller size as it’ll be cheaper. It also reduces the amount of filler material you need which reduces its weight (another money-saver) and waste. 

If you’re sending letters, check out this envelope size chart so you don’t splurge on a bigger envelope when you don’t have to. 

2. Get Free Packaging Materials

The cheapest way to ship a small package is by getting your packaging supplies for free. You can do this by:

Using Priority Mail

Priority Mail lets you ship cheaply as the USPS gives you free boxes and, if you ask, they will deliver them to your workplace. This also means you can save a few of these boxes to use for other shipments.

Once you have enough boxes, you can also cut them up and use them as dividers and filler for other shipments. 

Check out the Dumpsters

Although this isn’t for everyone, you could get old cardboard boxes from nearby businesses. For instance, grocery stores create a large amount of waste daily, when much of it could be re-used. 

You’ll be able to find bubble wrap, brown paper, and foam which are perfect for filling packaging. Even though recycled and cut-up materials aren’t the most aesthetic, they will reduce the amount you spend on shipments while minimizing your carbon footprint. 

3. Get Recycled Boxes 

In the U.S, 100 billion corrugated boxes are used every year, most of which end up in landfills.

Using recycled boxes and reusing old ones instead of buying new can help to reduce this waste.

If you’re planning to buy recycled boxes, make sure they’re eco-friendly. Look for a box that comes from the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) as it means it’s come from a sustainably managed forest, both environmentally and socially. 

4. Use Eco-Friendly Package Filler

Protective packaging is essential as it preserves its contents, but be mindful of your package filler choice.

Styrofoam, for example, is hazardous for the environment. Not only is it petroleum-based, but its manufacturing process produces a large amount of waste. 

Instead, swap it for biodegradable air peanuts as they work the same way without the disastrous environmental consequences. Or use cornstarch-based filler as it has plastic-like properties, making it a great alternative for bottles and loose-fill packaging.  

Another inexpensive alternative is made from mushrooms. It’s clean agricultural waste which is then bonded with mushroom roots. A great advantage is that is can be molded into whichever shape of packaging you wish and later biodegrades into non-toxic, organic matter.

You can also use inflatable air pillows as they’re available in an array of sizes and offer cushioning around packed items. They are small bags which consist mostly of air, minimizing the amount of plastic that goes into their production.

5. Find a Shipper That Does Green Delivery

Not sure what “green delivery” is?  

It means the most efficient way of transporting items. This means bulking deliveries together, waiting on the van to reach full capacity, and using carbon-efficient transportation like electric vehicles or even bicycles. 

Note that sustainable shipping can take longer than traditional couriers, but it can be more cost-effective and, of course, eco-friendly.

Thanks to the U.S’s SmartWay Program, you can see data on low-emission transporting companies to see which is the most eco-friendly. If you’re unsure, check their website every Monday afternoon to see their up-to-date performance rankings. 

You can also research to see whether they use hybrid delivery vehicles and whether they use eco-friendly packaging.

6. Send Items in Bulk

Even if you have many individual packages to send out, refrain from sending them out separately. If you’re concerned about shipping cheaply, transporting goods by bulk saves costs in transportation and reduces your carbon footprint. 

7. Use More Durable Packaging Materials 

Alongside its sustainability, packaging materials must be durable too. Packages often get thrown around between delivery and pickup, so it’s essential that the product stays safe in transit.

Another bonus of durable packaging is how you can re-use it. Most good quality cardboard boxes can be shipped multiple times and reinforced by duct tape when they show signs of wear and tear. 

That’s How You Get the Cheapest Shipping Boxes

It’s possible to find the cheapest shipping boxes when you get creative. You can start by re-using recycled boxes, buying your packages from sustainable sources, and choosing durable packaging so you can re-use it.

You should also find a “green” carrier as they’ll have recycled filler, packaging, and delivery services to minimize your footprint.

Did you find this article useful? If so, check out our posts on how to become more eco-friendly in every aspect of your life.