An essential facet of maintaining a sustainable business model includes recycling and using recycled packaging. However, traditional recycling efforts where everyone tosses their packaging in the recycling bins at the office is just a small part of what any business – small or large – can do to ensure an effective recycling campaign.
As you're undoubtedly aware, different types of paper are recycled differently when you send them along to your local recycling center. The type of paper you use for various jobs at work, as well as the type of recycled packaging you order, will have an impact on how you can use that paper in recycling projects with your employees.
"The grade of paper is determined by fiber length, which shortens after each trip through the recycling process. After being recycled five to seven times, the fibers become too short to make new paper and will need to be mixed with virgin fibers, according to the EPA."
1. Send Packaging Through the Printer
Although sustainable businesses reduce, limit, and even eliminate printing, there are still a variety of items that a business might need to print out. Printing may range from creating professional signage around the office to lists that would take too long to write out by hand.
Budget advice website Wise Bread reveals:
"Yes, it’s obvious, but it surprises me how many people don’t bother with printing on the back of scrap computer paper. Use scrap paper to print coupons, directions, meeting minutes, shopping lists, and other necessities. To make it easier, keep a tray of scrap paper next to the printer for easy access."
Recommend that everyone at your office, retail location, or business site get in the habit of keeping pieces of recycled packaging that have a clear and clean surface for printing. Throwing the paper in the recycling bin is a responsible action, but it's even better to reuse that paper before it gets recycled since paper can only be recycled so many times before new material must be added to the fibers.
2. Return Recycled Packaging to the Earth
Newspaper, wrapping paper, and recycled packaging can end up in the recycling bin at the office, but they can also find a home underground among plants and dirt. As long as you're not using glossy paper or pages with colored ink, your paper can help prevent weed growth in the flower beds around your business, as well as act as mulch to help the soil retain its moisture.
Farm and garden advice website Grit shares that mulch is a much less expensive option than using mulch or wood chips from the store to enhance landscaping.
"This job will take approximately one to several hours, depending on the size of your garden. The really nice thing about newspaper mulching is that when all the newspapers are down with the mulch on top, the garden looks incredibly tidy and clean — and it will stay that way for months."
You can make this transformation even more meaningful by creating a group project for employees where everyone chips in to beautify the landscaping. A particularly large property may require assistance from a professional grounds team, but you can set aside a small area for an employee-tended garden that uses paper for mulch and weed prevention.
3. Eliminate Scratch Pads By Reusing Recycled Packaging
Sticky notes and pads of paper designed for taking notes are usually recyclable, but why buy a new pad of paper (even if it's from a recycled source) when a clean piece of recycled packaging might have the same clear surface on which to write?
Just like you can reuse paper in the printer even if the paper already has something printed on one side, you can also employ this tactic when you need paper for note taking. If you hold regular meetings with employees, you may look into creating a pile of recycled paper where participants can take a few sheets and have paper for note taking during the meeting.
The World Wildlife Fund offers several suggestions on "efficient note-taking" that suggests introducing electronic "paper" to the mix:
"Memos or reminders could be recorded on a cell phone or recorder instead of writing it down; On a cell phone, you can write a reminder or directions on a text and save it in the draft file to look at it later when you need it. Then you can delete it."
Try to eliminate purchases of extra pads of paper and loose-leaf sheets, and use recycled packaging and leftover paper instead. You might be surprised how easy it is to begin using the back sides of envelopes for jotting down quick notes, as well as the inside or unmarked portion of your recycled packaging.
4. Use Recycled Packaging as Gift Wrap
Your packaging was used once to house an important item sold by or delivered to your business. Now, that same packaging can be used again as wrapping a gift or company product. Green-friendly advice often suggests using gift wrap for other purposes even after it's been used to wrap a gift. However, it's also possible to use paper that wasn't originally manufactured as gift wrap as wrapping for any number of gifts or items sent in the mail.
You can also reuse the supporting materials used to package your items. For example, bubble wrap is usable multiple times before it can no longer provide support for fragile items.
"Bubble wrap, foam peanuts, and paper are commonly used to cushion things for shipping. These materials can be easily reused."
An essential part of conducting business in an eco-friendly manner is making sure everything you ship uses no more than a minimal amount of packaging. Not only can you reuse the packaging received at your business through the mail, but you can also work to ensure the packages that are sent out from your business use minimal packaging.
5. Use Recycled Packaging Creatively for Crafts
The uses for recycled packaging don't stop at reused notepaper, packaging, and gift wrap. You can also use packaging for some incredibly neat (and useful) arts and crafts. For example, check out this video that shows how you can use preexisting materials to create a display studio for taking professional photographs of your company's products.
Bob Vila's website offers a slew of different ways you can use your cardboard boxes after they no longer have the structural integrity required for a trip through the mail. Here's one cool idea that transforms simple boxes into storage totes:
"Making this trio of storage totes is simpler than you might think. Gold screw bolts and spray adhesive hold the fabric covers in place, and an old belt finds new purpose as a carrying strap. Visit Brit + Co. for the tutorial."
Sustainable Recycled Packaging Solutions from Howard Packaging
Are you looking for ways to introduce sustainability to your business? Are you interested in eco-friendly packaging that offers additional benefits for branding and marketing? Find out what Howard Packaging can do for your business. Request a Free Catalog and Sample Kit Today!