Lowering our environmental impact with sustainable packaging
by Tawny Reynolds on Jun 29, 2016
Eco-Friendly JewelryAs an eco friendly jewelry designer, I’ve worked hard over the years to reduce the environmental impact of Sundrop Jewelry itself. Using recycled sterling silver wherever possible (which has grown increasingly available over the past decade - most of my designs now use 100% recycled silver!), introducing more colors of recycled glass, and, of course, using sunshine to melt the glass!
Sustainable PackagingI also feel that Sundrop Jewelry has a responsibility to be equally eco friendly in our packaging, shipping and other aspects of business as well. Like recycled silver, over the last decade sustainable packaging has become more and more readily available. Since 2009, the cards that your jewelry comes on are made of 100% recycled paper and printed with soy-based inks.
For a long time, I went as minimal as possible with packaging for mailing, but I found tissue paper padding in the box wasn’t quite enough to protect the jewelry. Now I’ve settled on a classic white jewelry box (100% recycled) with a non-tarnishing cotton padding. (I’m not sure what the “cotton” padding is or how it is made non-tarnishing - I’ve contacted some suppliers, and hopefully I’ll be able to address that in a future post.)
But that jewelry box is too small for a shipping label, so it has to go inside something else, along with the packing slip and handwritten note I include with every order. For a long time I went with small corrugated cardboard boxes, which were 45% post-consumer recycled material. But they required more padding inside so the jewelry box didn't rattle around too much (recycled tissue paper, but still, it's more packaging). I now use these padded envelopes, padded with recycled paper pulp - the entire envelope is recycled!
As the Beatles say, "You've got to admit, we're getting better, we're getting better all the time."
However, while recycling paper and cardboard is great, it's not an infinitely repeatable cycle. Unlike glass or aluminum, which can be recycled again and again with no degradation, paper can only be recycled four or five times before the fibers get too short and weak to hang together. I think the padding in my mailing envelope is made from this kind of pulp of weak fibers that has been recycled too many times, although I'm not certain.
Pro: one more use out of an almost-exhausted material!
Con: although it is technically recyclable, it seems likely that most of the material will end up in the waste sludge of the recycling plant, often ending up in a landfill.
It makes me wonder if we can find more uses for this pulp... What do you think? Tell me in the comments below!