E-Commerce & Waste
As an e-commerce company with big hopes and dreams of positively impacting children, we realized that we have an excellent opportunity to make responsible business decisions that align with the bright and kolorful future we envision for our children. Yes, our primary focus is to create more choices for parents to allow their children to have expression unconfined by social beliefs around gender norms, BUT (and it’s a big but) businesses make a lot of other decisions that impact the type of world and environmental issues our children will face in the future. This is why we decided early on to explore sustainable packaging.
So what did we learn? Oh. So. Much. E-commerce has grown exponentially over the past decade, with a staggering $4.55 trillion in sales in 2021. Think of ALL the packaging and waste created to support that shipping! Yeah, it makes us sweat a little too. On our darker days, we fear a trash polluted dystopian future with Mad Max running around tripping on single-use plastics. So what are the alternatives that are kinder to the environment and easy for online shoppers?
Types of Sustainable Packaging
Our research found three main categories of sustainable packaging: reusable, biodegradable, and compostable. To give a brief description of each:
Reusable Packaging is composed of recyclable materials that can be reused, recycled, or refurbished. Basically, this type of packing has a longer life of being useful before being recycled, cutting down on the amount of packaging material produced, unlike single-use packaging that is used once and then disposed of, to forever sit in some landfill. Just kidding, only sort of.
Biodegradable Packaging breaks down and returns to nature under the right conditions. Sounds peaceful. The major benefit is that biodegradable materials, whether recycled or thrown in the trash, will break down more quickly than plastic and return from whence they came. Huzzah.
Compostable Packaging breaks down similarly to biodegradable materials but has the benefit of adding nutrition to the soil. While some can feed your glorious home tomato crop, others must be processed in a commercial composting facility. You can toss it out in the trash as a last resort, but the composting process cannot happen within typical airtight landfills.
It is important to note that sustainable packaging comes in many different forms. It is not always easy to know how best to dispose of these items, and it is dependent on your local area. Over 20 common packaging symbols help identify how best to dispose of the material.
Fig. 1 (Source: 20 common packaging symbols - source)
What Type of Packaging does Kolorful use?
Given the types of products we ship - adorably colorful gender-neutral baby clothes *wink* - we use a packaging solution that adequately protects our products while also being kind to the planet AND easy for our customers to discard.
Fig. 2 (Vincotte OK biodegradable labels - source)
If you haven’t guessed yet, we ship, package, and label our products in compostable solutions certified for home compost (one of the 5-star environmental rating options, no biggy). So no need to worry about tearing off the shipping label or whether you must send it to a commercial facility; toss it in your yard waste or home compost and feed those hungry tomatoes! If you are interested in the products we use or are a business looking to join the sustainable movement, we currently use products from Eco Packables and The Better Packaging Co.
We hope that more sustainable and cost-effective shipping solutions become available to retailers, overtaking the single-use and new material market that is the standard. We at Kolorful are proud and excited to be able to make this responsible business decision early on to maximize our impact on both the environment and our children’s futures.
We wish you and your little ones a very green future!