12 Eco-friendly and creative tips for packaging your handmade products
(There’s an added bonus tip at the end, as well, for more packaging inspiration.)
To begin with, a reminder of why packaging matters to your product-brand, more than you might think!…
Also, it’s a chance to emphasise your brand values. The qualities that are important in your maker-business. When you give mindful consideration to this via your packaging, you can reinforce the fundamental ethos you stand for – vegan-friendly? No frills? Luxe? Attention to detail? Spell it out.
At its most basic, packaging is about function. The practicality of your item arriving safe and sound, without scratches, breakages, or water damage. All are key factors to think of through your packaging, to ensure security and protection.
Finally, it’s a chance to reinforce consistent messaging… echoing your brand story again, but mainly this is about visuals. Bringing your handcrafted, creative flair out (and adding the special touch that mega-brands can’t!)
Adding a custom thank you note, using logo-branded wrapping paper/ tissue, including a business card to drill down the brand awareness, even applying custom tape in your brand’s colour palette – these are just some ideas open to you.
So, grab a cuppa for my round up of 12 ideas (or should I say, 13 with that bonus one thrown in!) to be more conscious of your packaging choices, and ways to consciously present your small business brand in a creative way.
1. Opt for poly mailers with low environmental impact
Compostable made from corn or vegetable starch… recycled and/or recyclable plastic… bubble-lined and padded mailers such as ‘Jiffy green’ bags that are recyclable… there are many options. Try providers such as Eco-craft, NoIssue and bag it Plastics.
NoIssue and Sticker Mule are able to produce premium custom-printed dispatch bags, for added brand recognition.
2. Mailers can be recyclable and also beautiful
3. Cardboard mailing boxes are simple to recycle
Many businesses are able to use ones that fit through a standard-size letterbox too, which adds to the convenience for customers. Are you ‘selling’ this benefit, that buyers won’t have the hassle of waiting in to take your delivery? That your item is slim enough to fit through the postbox?
Look out for shipping boxes by Tiny Box Company, Eco-craft, or Priory Direct, amongst others.
They’re easy to add a custom creative touch too, by applying a sticker, or inked with a logo stamp. (See tip no. 7!)
She adds, “I always use cardboard boxes rather than plastic packaging.”
If you’re a pet lover, give her a follow on Instagram and visit the EvaLilyCo Etsy shop here for cute dog bandanas, cat bow ties and more.
4. Tissue paper adds cushioned padding and consistent branding
Remember that you might like to consider acid-free tissue which won’t cause discolouration, degradation or damage over time, for sensitive materials such as fabrics, art prints and vintage items. Tissue at bag it Plastics is acid-free and food-safe, in a range of colours.
Why not take a look at the NoIssue option for custom-printed tissue, too, to splash out on a branded design?
5. Go eco for specialist packaging, too
✅ polystyrene-substitute chips, aka packing peanuts, that are water-degradable – made of starch, they’re ideal for packaging fragile items like ceramics.
✅ shredded corrugated cardboard, (known as void fill) to fill boxes around awkward-shaped items – recycled and recyclable.
✅ tubes (and boxes that can contain tubes!) are great for rollable items such as posters and art prints – cardboard is again the material of choice.
These kind of shipping materials may not be super-pretty, but better your item arrives safe and protected, than pretty and broken!
Look for all these and more specialist solutions (as well as the ‘everyday’ ones) at Kite Packaging or Priory Direct.
Sush says, “We use Kite Packaging for shipping all our fragile items, and not least, the art, which needs particular care of course. They have great packaging solutions, such as the eco-friendly triangular postal tubes. The tubes are sturdy and provide the much-needed protection for our paintings when we ship them. We appreciate the fast delivery too!”
Click over at Tinga Treasures to see more, and support them on Instagram too.
6. Bags are helpful for packaging at in-person events
There are lots of possibilities, and in a range of sizes, so try NoIssue, Eco-craft, and bag it Plastics again.
I’ve even found cheap-and-cheerful ones available in bulk at a wholesaler before! They’re an inexpensive choice, and I chose to give them personal oomph with branded stamping.
Speaking of which…
7. Show off your creativity with a rubber stamp that’ll reinforce brand awareness
Ink it up, stamp firmly and wipe to clean and keep your stamp in good nick. No craft skill needed!
I’ve ordered bespoke rubber stamps from Etsy before, uploading my chosen image, or try NoIssue or The English Stamp Company.
“Using my logo stamp from local hardware store Frome Hardware really gives my gift sets a little touch of handmade pizzazz” she says.
Check out Steph’s gorgeous creations over at M.I.F Soap Co and follow for updates at her IG page.
8. Stickers are for grown-ups, too
Not just simple circle stickers either, it’s possible to find many shapes and sizes of stickers in bulk (on rolls or sheets), recycled paper ones, plastic vinyl in clear or full-colour… have your own printed. And even to buy blank labels for addressing and for printing your own labels on candles and such.
So. Many. Possibilities!
Shop around at suppliers such as Sticker Mule (which has a squillion-and-one varieties!), Eco-craft, Priory Direct, and there are even many suppliers on Etsy itself. Many traditional business print services also offer sticker-printing at a great price.
You could even design and cut your own stickers, if you’re handy with a Cricut diecutting machine.
9. Seal up your parcel with paper tape
It’s great for the mindful touch to your parcels, and extra fun with the printed choices.
Look for the options at Sticker Mule, The Plastic Free Shop, NoIssue, TissueAndTape (who also plant trees for every order!)
10. Try display cards and boxes with a conscience
Tiny Box Company and Eco-craft each have a fantastic range of boxes in different styles, card finishes and sizes, with the option for ones made from 100%-recycled card.
At the latter, there are even necklace-card inserts to sit inside the box, so you can say goodbye to the need for synthetic foam.
I like their pillow boxes, as well, supplied flat for compact storage and ready-to-fold – they’re great for small items and give a classy, gift-worthy feel.
If you sell gift boxed sets, subscription boxes or mini-hamper-style parcels in your maker-business, the larger boxes are fab for this! Ready to be branded, glammed up and tied with a bow or kept simple, as you see fit, spelling out your present-worthy vibe.
I get my boxes, jewellery box card inserts and tissue from Eco-craft.
Their recycled card is useful for me, as well, to make non-standard inserts for some of my pieces.”
Take a look at her Etsy shop, BiancaRosewood, for artisan jewellery from beautiful reclaimed woods, which has a lovely contemporary feel.
And why not click to follow Bianca’s page on IG here?
11. Cello bags needn’t be plastic-cello
They’re an ideal answer to pop a flat product in, and then use a board-backed envelope in order to keep shipping costs down while still offering protection. Or for the 3D products, to still show them off, keeping up the eye-candy factor.
Head to Eco-craft, and Tiny Box Company as just a couple of options, to bulk order.
12. Add to the custom-branded experience with printed note cards
The most inexpensive method is one hand-designed, hand-written or printed on your computer, but you can take that to the next level with a card-printing service.
Including a business card with your details and social media handles in your package is a fab option to remind customers of your brand, encourages them to spread the word by passing on your card, and can support repeat buys.
Business service print providers – on many high streets – offer great value deals, and will be able to advise on the format they need for your print design. Many can also provide graphic design services!
Online print services are also widely available, such as Moo for business cards and beyond.
Follow the hashtag #PackAnOrderWithMe on Instagram or search ‘packaging ideas’ on Pinterest.
You’re sure to pick up some fab inspiration for packaging your items from fellow creative sellers.
Watch a few Reels, click a few posts, save the Pins… And don’t forget to leave a comment to tell those makers how they’ve inspired you. Community over competition!
I hope these ideas gave you food for thought to step up your product packaging.
Leave a comment if you have tried any of these suppliers, or maybe you like to express yourself through other creative packaging ideas? Do tell.