Every small business owner is looking for ways to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. Furthermore, every one of them wants their business to be solid, and to do some measure of good for the world. That doesn’t mean you need to run a non-profit organization; you can run a profitable business, while at the same time taking steps to give back in one way or another. A lot of business owners are accomplishing this by making their businesses more eco-friendly. The environment is a major concern in this day and age, and the future of our world may depend on small steps that we can all take to be more “green”. These small steps are all the more impactful when they’re executed by business owners, who may be able to have those steps carried out throughout their line of business. Perhaps one of the simplest ways through a small business owner can ensure that their business is more environmentally friendly is through the use of sustainable packaging. Let look into sustainable packaging, and how you can best use it in your line of business.
1. Analyze The Design
You must analyze the design of packaging, regardless of whether or not it is eco-friendly. Packaging makes a big impression on consumers, especially today when a lot of small businesses function primarily online. The packaging of your products is one of the main ways through which consumers get an idea of your branding, and it shouldn’t be neglected. A lot of packaging and product ideas are left of the cutting room floor for that very reason; in fact, for every seven new products that are conceptualized, only four move forward to the product development stage. A great way to make packaging more sustainable is to cut down on its weight. Furthermore, lightweight packaging is actually easier to ship and can cut down on shipping costs. However, lightweight packaging design should never equal a flimsy packaging design. This could result in products being broken as they’re shipped. Not only will this harm your reputation among consumers; it will also result in more time being spent on processing returns and refunds.
2. Assess The Products’ Needs
Another issue you should consider, of course, is what the product being packaged really needs. There are a lot of issues that come with excessive packaging, but at the same time, you shouldn’t neglect the needs of a product. If the product needs to be kept in that packaging for the long term, or perhaps permanently for the sake of preservation, you need to ensure that this is all taken care of. Some business owners like to make a list of what is needed in packaging, and what is just “nice to have”. This will ensure that you get the right type of packaging for both practical and superficial purposes in the end. If you have a business partner, the two of you should potentially debate this; but as up to 70% of business partnerships do end up failing, make sure that your debate doesn’t turn into a fight!
3. Encourage Packaging Reuse
Of course, though you as a business owner can supply sustainable packaging, that doesn’t mean that the consumers that receive the packaging will use it as intended. Or rather, reuse it as intended. You should communicate why you chose sustainable packaging, as well as its many benefits, through your website or perhaps even a note included in your shipping notice emails. If packaging is attractive and durable, it’s easier for people to reuse it. Consider how often you reuse the boxes shoes are packaged within. Shoe boxes are the perfect places for shoes to be kept, whether in the closet or under the bed. Therefore, you should approach your own packaging with a similar mindset. Samsung has gone as far as to include a QR code with their television packaging, which encourages people to reuse their packaging by offering digital building instructions for them to follow. Taking this approach is really the way of the future, and will enable your business to appear much more forward-thinking.
4. Incorporate Sustainable Packaging Into Your Branding
Consumers today are worried about what they’re supporting, and whether or not it’s ethical and eco-friendly. By pushing your company in a green direction with its packaging, you can ensure that consumers feel good about what they’re buying. They’re not just investing in a product, but in the environment and in a business that is meant to do good for the world. It’s something that you can actively incorporate into your packaging design, by advertising the green nature of your business on the packaging itself. Remember that first impressions are 94% design-related. You need to make sure that your design immediately gives the impression of greenness and sustainability immediately.
5. There Are Many Ways To Be Eco-Friendly
The general design of your packaging can be sustainable in many different ways, and you need to be conscious about the capabilities of the packaging manufacturer that you’re working with. Right now, manufacturing workers account for about 8.5% of the workforce, with almost 12.5 million manufacturing workers in the United States. There are a number of different manufacturing plants to choose from, therefore, and you need to think long and hard before committing to one. At the same time, listen to their suggestions. A material that you never thought would work for packaging may work quite well, in fact. For that matter, you need to listen to what your customers are asking for, and make a decision that fulfills their requests as much as possible while also fulfilling your own practical needs.
There are a lot of things that a small business owner takes on, and becoming more environmentally and eco-friendly only adds to your responsibilities. But you need to remember that this is not only a step in the right direction for your business, but for the world on a larger scale.