7 steps fashion brands can take towards eco-friendly packaging

Krista Greenaway

Krista Greenaway

hand holding the future is in your hands

Eco-friendly packaging is not often a phrase we associate with fashion the industry. It is a world is notorious for being fast-paced and consumerist. This fast-pace mindset bleeds into all aspects of the industries’ production, including the not so notable shipping and packaging process.

After all, a product wouldn’t get to you without cargo carrying crates of products overseas. It’s time fashion brands review how they can take a step in the right direction, implementing sustainable packaging solutions to meet the demands of their eco-conscious consumers.

Get our best content on Climate Action in your inbox every week

The case for eco-friendly packaging

Packaging is known as one of the largest contributors to waste globally. Nearly everything you see will be encased in some form of packaging whether that be plastic, cardboard or paper.

The issue here is that, while efforts have been made to make packaging eco-friendly, there are still concerns about the volume of packaging materials that are actually being recycled. Packaging is a great place to start if you’re looking to change your consumer’s view about your fashion brand.

It’s one of the easiest processes to change when trying to make a more conscious sustainability effort.

How can your fashion brand start making a move towards supplying fully sustainable packaging?  Here’s 7 simple changes you can make to your current packaging methods that will show your customers the supply chain isn’t all bad.

delivery package filled with excess materials being opened

1. Stop the excess, start providing eco-friendly packaging 

It seems that in most delivery cases, packaging is bursting at the seams. Overflowing with materials you’re not sure why are even in there. Sure, it may look nice, you may even validate that it protects your parcels but it ultimately leaves many customers confused, wondering what to do with it all. 

In fact, 70 percent of consumers think retailers use too much packaging for online orders. The frustration of having a bunch of excess materials to try and squeeze into their waste bins is causing more hassle than it’s worth for both the consumer and the environment.

Excess packaging accounts for an extra one million metric tonnes of waste every year. So it’s time to ditch the vanity packaging and evaluate how much you actually need. Your customers will thank you for it!

repack mail packaging reused as a carrier bag

2. Reusable Packaging

Packaging is incredibly versatile. The fact you can reuse most packaging materials time and time again is underexploited, to say the least. Reusing packaging not only means less needs to be harvested, but it also means you don’t need to source it time and time again. Fully utilising packaging in a Business-to-Business (B2B) environment such as warehouse transit can result in significant long-term cost savings. 

Fortunately, there is a variety of reusable packaging systems that are available for most businesses to use. Implementing a reusable option demonstrates companies are actively improving the sustainability of their supply chains. Something that a third of customers are looking out for.

compostable packaging fashion apparel

3. Recyclable Packaging

From a consumer standpoint, recyclable packaging is something every buyer likes to know a business can offer. Part of this is because it feels like the consumer is doing more for their environment with very little effort.

Fortunately for business owners recyclable packaging is incredibly easy to source these days- meaning there’s no excuses here to not to implement it into your packaging process. In fact, it’s becoming expected of nearly all companies to offer recyclable packaging as a bare minimum. But recyclable packaging can pose an exciting new venture for businesses.

If you haven’t used recyclable packaging before, use a re-branding opportunity to speak to consumers on a more personal level. The world’s biggest brands including Häagen-Dazs and Muji have taken recyclable and reusable packaging to new heights. Their products no longer look how they used to. Instead they come in fully recyclable, futuristic looking packaging. A factor that has become the forefront of their product design.

warehouse supply chain people

4. Invest in thermal printers for packaging

Thermal printers will change your sustainability game dramatically. Using a thermal printing machine for labeling eliminates the need for ink as well as packing tape if your current labels lack adhesive backing.

Depending on the volume of parcels you ship out, investing in a thermal printing machine will most likely be a long-term cost saver. In addition to cutting costs, thermal printers of course use fewer resources and will reduce your business’s carbon footprint. It’s an asset that simply can’t go amiss.

amazon big delivery in bulk

5. Review Your Providers

Sourcing recyclable packaging materials don’t need to be strenuous providing you choose the right materials for your fashion brand and work with suitable providers. Innovative new companies including Loop are responsible for packaging redesign for the likes of major brands that include Ariel, Nivea, and Häagen-Dazs as mentioned above.

 As a fashion brand, it’s important not to let this design factor go unmissed. Loop has provided inspiration to many companies to think outside the box when creating packaging that is not only eco-friendly but highly appealing to consumers. Check out H&M’s latest idea- the cardboard shopping bag that doubles up as a coat hanger

How can you implement something similar that expresses your fashion brand? That’s a question for your design team to get excited about. If inspiration is lacking, there are packaging providers out there to help you. Priory Direct is one of the UK’s best sustainable packaging providers and helps companies implement sustainable packaging into their brands. 

They go the extra mile by giving eco-scores to products and provide a diverse range of packaging options including recyclable, biodegradable, sustainable, compostable, plastic-free, and carbon-neutral packaging.

partner up two hands shaking

6. Ship packaged goods in bulk

One thing you’ll often see these days is large companies that ship orders separately. This is usually down to a number of different reasons but the main cause is down to having stock in different locations. Granted that large companies often need more storage space for products, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to have stock in locations so far removed from one another. 

It’s a logical move for all companies to avoid shipping orders separately and ship in bulk wherever possible. This will help you keep packaging waste low, but it also means that no customers are left frustrated by the discovery that parcels from the same order will arrive on separate dates. Meeting consumer needs is easy when you understand buyer behavior.

Simple insights such as knowing where the majority of consumers are located, or knowing what items may be purchased together, will help you to decide factors like the location of your warehouse and if you should be storing certain products together.

rethink packaging

7. Partner Up

The shipping process can be overwhelming when digging into the details. 

Because it is deemed a “behind the scenes” kind of process for businesses, it isn’t exactly the most encouraging process, to begin with turning eco-friendly. That’s why companies should look into using supply chain partners that can help them be more sustainable and reduce carbon measures. 

What a supply chain partner will often help with is evaluating your fashion brand’s current footprint and highlighting its weak points. From there, partners can provide solutions to any issues within your packaging processes that could include automated packaging solutions, sustainable packaging strategies, and optimization of materials.

Taking action towards improving the sustainability of packaging with a partner helps them to identify what needs to be improved in order to decrease costs while simultaneously boosting sustainability. If anything, promoting the sustainability efforts of your packaging process in today’s market is essential in pleasing your consumer base.

sustainable packaging

Eco-friendly packaging is becoming the new norm

Will your consumers really care if you make changes to your packaging principles? Absolutely, yes. Of all things you could be doing to make a greener effort, the packaging is certainly one of them. Overall, 74% of buyers said they would pay more for sustainable packaging. So it’s definitely something you’ll want to market at checkout. 

Make sure you look into the sustainability of your packaging materials and find a supplier who meets your needs. This will ultimately help you obtain the sustainability goals you want to succeed not only faster but in a cost-effective manner.

If these are the kind of benefits that can coincide with saving the planet- start implementing them today. Download our sustainability checklist to help keep you on track with your developments and start making a difference today. 

Want more details on eco-friendly packaging materials your business can use? Want to attract eco-friendly consumers? Check out the One Tribe business hub to see our online tools.

Join the tribe!

Connect your business or place of work. No credit card needed.

The fashion world, fast-paced and consumerist, industries production, shipping and packaging process, implementing sustainable packaging solutions, eco-conscious consumers, make packaging eco-friendly, conscious sustainability effort, fully sustainable packaging, consumer and the environment, excess packaging, reusable packaging, recyclable packaging, easy to source, expected of nearly all companies, recyclable packaging as a bare minimum, new venture for businesses, re-branding opportunity, fully recyclable, product design, eliminates the need for ink, long-term cost saver, cutting costs, reduce your businesses carbon footprint, choose the right materials, highly appealing to consumers, implement sustainable packaging, plastic-free and carbon-neutral, ship in bulk wherever possible, keep packaging waste low, turning eco-friendly, reduce carbon measures, highlighting weak points, automated packaging solutions, sustainable packaging strategies, optimization of materials, improving the sustainability of packaging, boosting sustainability, pleasing your customer base, make a greener effort, cost effective, saving the planet, eco-friendly packaging materials.