Sustainability by Design: 5 Ways to Greenify Your Packaging

In this guest post by our friends at noissue, learn why opting for sustainable packaging is more important than ever, plus five great options to help greenify your packaging.

Let’s talk packaging—and not the stock-standard, Amazon cardboard box kind. It can often be an afterthought due to being the last part of the sales process, but this misses a valuable opportunity to show off your creativity, branding, and values.

In 2020, packaging has come a long way since being the domain of big businesses, with products like custom tissue paper that were once mostly used by luxury brands now accessible to businesses big and small.

Great design and eco-friendly packaging are no longer mutually exclusive.

As well as this, innovations in the packaging industry mean that great design and eco-friendly packaging are no longer mutually exclusive: the two can go hand in hand.

Now that sustainable packaging has all of the other perks of other types of packaging, from low minimum order quantities (MOQs) to customizable designs, it’s a no-brainer to pick packaging options that don’t negatively impact the environment.


If you’re not quite convinced yet, here’s why it pays to make a switch to more sustainable packaging.

It’s what consumers want

The impact of a business on the environment is a key concern for modern-day consumers. The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility
 found that 55% of respondents would pay extra for goods from companies that are committed to environmental responsibility, and that 52% would check the packaging to measure its impact. Considering that your packaging is the public face of your brand that a customer will experience first, it’s important to make sure you’re sending the right message about what your values are.

It improves efficiency

We’ve all received a package in the past that has been filled with excess plastic, such as cellophane or bubble wrap, or a product in a box that is far bigger than necessary. Reviewing your packaging and choosing more sustainable options means that you’re mindful of the way you’re packaging your goods up and are more proactive in removing any excess layers or waste.

There’s more freedom to customize your design than ever before

In the past, sustainable packaging options were seen as the “unsexy” choice that couldn’t be custom designed, which made a lot of people turn away from them. However, companies like noissue have shown that you can have both beautifully designed packaging and more sustainable business practices, so there’s no need to stress about sacrificing one for the other.

It’s just the right thing to do

It’s no secret that our planet is under significant environmental pressure right now, influencing many businesses to adapt to more eco-friendly practices. Taking a more socially responsible approach to how you run your business operations means you’re contributing to a healthier planet and heading in the same direction of many of the world’s most innovative businesses, such as Allbirds and Reformation. After all, it feels a lot better to be part of the solution than part of the problem.

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Sustainable Packaging

by Alexander Mostov

Introducing Persona's new biodegradable vitamin packs.

View on Dribbble

Here are five easy features that can greenify your packaging.

1. Eco-friendly inks

As a designer, color is everything, but did you know some inks are better for the environment than others?

Soy-based ink is an eco-friendly alternative to the petroleum or oil-based inks on the market used in packaging products. It relies on a 100 percent renewable source, soybean oil, that’s made in abundance and is less costly to grow for farmers.

This type of ink is also biodegradable, which means it breaks down organically and returns to the earth easily. When used in conjunction with a compostable product, like a mailer bag or tissue paper, it means the entire product is renewable and can disappear into the soil without any hazardous waste or chemicals being leached out in the process.

Soy-based ink doesn’t only have environmental benefits, either – it helps make colors pop. Since soybean oil is clearer in its base than other types of oil, it has the added bonus of producing brighter, more vibrant colors when printing.


2. Renewable packaging materials (plant-based materials)

Renewable packaging materials are as the name describes: regenerative. They’re an alternative to single-use packaging materials and are made from natural, plant-based materials like corn or wheat, as well as bio-polymers. These materials are natural so worms can eat them in a compost heap, leaving no waste product behind.

These materials follow the principles of the circular economy and help the packaging break down in a compost and return to the earth without any harm being done to the environment. In order to be certified home compostable, the packaging must break down within 180 days in home compost and 90 days in commercial compost.

Considering how many e-commerce orders are shipped out each day, one renewable packaging material that can have a huge impact is compostable mailer bags. Using them as an alternative to poly (plastic) mailers can have a big impact environmentally, considering poly bags take hundreds of years to biodegrade in a landfill and leach out harmful chemicals during this process.


3. Reusable packaging materials

You might have recently changed your behavior to now use reusable shopping bags over single-use plastic bags, or a KeepCup over a single-use coffee cup. Reusable packaging materials are similar in concept, but for online shopping.

Reusable packaging is packaging that’s designed to be used more than one time and has a built-in secondary (or third or fourth) use. While a lot of packaging tends to be single-use, reusable packaging can be used over and over again for a variety of purposes once it accomplishes its primary goal, like a recycled mailer or a box.

Because of this, it’s usually designed to promote easy re-use, cleaning, and durability so it can be reused with ease. The benefits of reusable packaging are that it has a longer lifespan than plastic packaging, so it prevents single-use plastics from being used.


4. FSC certified paper products

When it comes to choosing a paper-based product, it pays to pick one that’s ethically sourced. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper products are made from 30 percent recycled materials and the remainder from new wood pulp.

The certification means the wood pulp has been harvested in a socially and environmentally responsible way, from the forest all the way to the supply chain.

It’s also free of acid, lignin, and sulfur, which means it won’t leave behind any chemicals when decomposing in a compost.

An example of this is FSC-certified tissue paper, which is a great eco-friendly alternative to cellophane and plastic gift wrap that’s often used to wrap products. If you’re creating art prints, then there’s also the option to print onto FSC-certified card stock.


5. Water-activated tape

Custom tape with an illustration or logo on it can add a splash of personality to packaging, but the issue with glossy or wax-coated tape is its stickiness means it doesn’t break down in composting and therefore isn’t biodegradable.

Water-activated tape is a great biodegradable alternative because a dispenser or a sponge activates the stickiness of the tape. This means it doesn’t leave behind any harmful chemical residues when biodegrading, making this finishing touch on your packaging eco-friendly and ensuring customers don’t have to remove the sticky bits before composting.

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zero waste icons

by Ashleigh Green

Zero waste Instagram highlight covers are now live in my etsy shop :)

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So there you have it—opting for more sustainable packaging isn’t hard in this day and age as greener features are easily accessible and fully customizable, so it makes sense to choose the option that’s best for the environment.

A study from Traackr
 found that from 2018 to 2019, there was a 100% increase in hashtag mentions such as “#wastefulpackaging” and keyword phrases like “too much packaging”. Don’t be part of the problem—be part of the solution. For more sustainable packaging options and inspiration, explore noissue’s creative community on Instagram

About the author: Elly Strang is a digital editor at noissue. Want to find sustainable options for your packaging? noissue lets you design your own branded eco-friendly tissue paper, stickers, tape, and more. Simply upload your design, logo, or illustration, and we’ll do the rest. Learn more about our packaging options here.

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