The eco-friendly packaging industry hit an estimated $152 billion in 2016.

It may seem impossible that eco-friendly packaging made so much money, but the numbers don’t lie; consumers are more than ever devoted to eco-friendly products, including shipping materials.

You may think that there is not much that goes into how to ship a package. Package your product, purchase a shipping label, stick it in the mail.

But there’s actually more to consider if you or your company is striving to be more eco-friendly. Your packaging materials, boxes, protective wraps can all be altered to suit a more eco-friendly practice.

If you’re in the business of shipping products, review our list of seven great methods for incorporating eco-friendly shipping methods into your business.

1. Seaweed Packaging

Believe it or not, seaweed is a great eco-friendly material source

The gelatinous substance agar is sourced from seaweed. The natural thickener is typically used as a vegetarian alternative to gelatin. But seaweed also makes a great plastic alternative that’s also extremely eco-friendly.

Plentiful seaweed is a fantastic alternative to plastics or other materials that don’t break down and pollute the environment. And since seaweed is so plentiful, it’s a sustainable source of material to continue developing plastic alternatives that won’t pollute the world’s oceans like plastics.

2. Recycled Plastics

Sometimes a sturdy container that can stand up to rough handling is the only thing that will do for shipping or transportation. A heavy haul trucking company, for example, must be able to depend on the containers they put in their trucks.

Being eco-friendly doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for plastics. 

100% recycled plastics are available for a variety of containers and packaging materials, and stand up just as well as plastic products that are manufactured from new plastic.

And recycled plastic is a fantastic opportunity to provide education to your customers as well as your employees. Take the opportunity to inform your customers about the recycled plastics their item was shipped in, and encourage them to recycle the plastic as well.

3. Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

Strangely enough, cornstarch makes great packing peanuts.

Biodegradable peanuts replace harmful Styrofoam peanuts. Styrofoam peanuts don’t break down and end up further polluting the environment. Biodegradable peanuts provide the same protection and cushioning that Styrofoam peanuts do, without the harmful effects on the environment.

And biodegradable packing peanuts aren’t made from the same toxic materials that Styrofoam is made from. The biodegradable materials are non-toxic and non-harmful, meaning pets and children who love to get into things won’t be in danger of ingesting something toxic, leaving you with happy customers.

Plus, you won’t have to deal with a mess of clingy Styrofoam pieces in your warehouse or customer homes, and who doesn’t love a neat workspace? 

4. Recycled Materials Air Pillows

Not a fan of packing peanuts? Try an air pillow.

These little bags are inflatable, providing the same type of protective cushioning that packing peanuts do, but with air instead of Styrofoam.

Air pillows are available in a variety of different sizes as well as pillows that are made from 100% recycled materials. And these bags are reusable and recyclable, perfect for helping your company shift to a more eco-friendly shipping alternative.

5. Corrugated Bubble Wrap

Shipping a delicate item? Corrugated bubble wrap has you covered.

This cardboard alternative to traditional plastic bubble wrap recycles cardboard. The cardboard is sliced with small grooves that absorb shock impact much like bubble wrap.

There are plenty of sizes and custom options for corrugated cardboard as a bubble wrap alternative. Rest assured that your delicate items are being shipped safely.

6. How to Ship a Package with Recycled Paper

Of course, one of the easiest ways to do your part in shipping products with eco-friendly packaging is to recycle.

Reusing cardboard boxes is a great way to reduce the dependency on buying large quantities of brand new shipping boxes. Recycling empty boxes around your warehouse or shipping center will not only get rid of some clutter, but it’ll help out the environment, too.

The variety of size options make using recycled shipping boxes you already have on hand a nice, neat way of establishing variety and finding the most suitable recycled cardboard box to ship your packages in.

You can also easily recycle packing paper to keep all items safe. Or reuse bubble wrap that came from a previous package. 

If you can’t reuse a box or packing materials, it’s beneficial to ensure that those items are recycled. This will allow more boxes and bubble wrap and other shipping materials to be recycled and remade into another shipping box without putting a strain on the environment. 

And if you do adopt a recycled box and packing material policy, it’s a wonderful chance to connect with your customers. Inform them of the steps you’re taking to reduce single-use shipping materials and encourage them to utilize local recycling centers.

7. Mushroom Packaging

Mushroom packaging is an ingenious solution for replacing plastics. 

The clever development is a result of mycelium, the roots of mushrooms, being used to fuse together agricultural waste. The resulting solid mass can be shaped into anything, a great alternative to plastics and Styrofoam.

Mushroom packaging is easily biodegradable as well. It will break down in a compost pile without further contributing to wasteful plastics.

This natural packaging also makes good use of otherwise useless agricultural waste. It repurposes the materials into something useful.

There are Plenty of Eco-Friendly Ways to Ship

If seven different ways of how to ship a package aren’t enough for you, there are plenty of other ways to get creative.

Utilize fabrics in place of paper or bubble wrap. Seek out 100% recycled boxes or plastics for shipping packages or containers. Spread the word about recycling to your customers.

Eco-friendly shipping is far from impossible. It only takes a little research, a little creativity, and a little devotion to ensure that your company is using eco-friendly shipping products. Your contribution will go a long way in reducing wasteful materials on planet Earth.