Encouraging people to reuse packing materials


If my experience is any indication, the typical shipping box from an online retailer is filled with a seemingly random assortment of packing material. Sometimes, you get those air-filled plastic bags, while in other cases it’s bubble wrap or brown craft paper. Many of these materials can be recycled, so I usually fold them up and put them into the recycling queue.

However, after wrestling with what must have been a 20 foot long sheet of craft paper, I thought of an obvious question: why don’t I keep some of this packing material for future use? By doing so, I would save money and time, and get another use out of the existing stuff before it (hopefully) ends up in a recycle bin. So, I took my giant roll of brown craft paper, set it aside, and promised myself to consider reusing packing materials in the future.

From the retailer’s perspective, encouraging this type of reuse makes sense. It fits with the “green” initiatives that many companies are pursuing, and has the potential to help customers save time and money. But how can you convince people to use those packing materials again? Simple: just print a reminder on the inside of the shipping box. Or if that’s not possible, try putting the reminder on the outside of the box or on the packing slip. Even if only 5-10% of customers end up following the recommendation, it’s still a lot better than seeing all of that packing material get discarded after a single use.