Everyone in his own «little» way can do great things!
Everyone in his own «little» way can do great things!

Ecological shipments

The mission of reducing waste and the use of plastic, starting from simple daily routines, continues with a new target: learn how to ship envelopes and packets ecologically!

Letters and envelopes
Packets and boxes
Protection and sealing
Technical instructions

Letters and envelopes

Who doesn’t ever need to send a letter, some documents or little items? Without much thought, you go to the nearest post office, you get an envelope to stuff everything in and off you go. Unfortunately, this way you risk to receive windowed envelopes or, even worse, the ones with bubble wrap inside.

The good news is that you can easily avoid them, saving money too. In fact, you only need to fold a common paper sheet four times (photo below) to get a functional envelope for documents! Moreover, using a one-side printed sheet (without sensitive data, of course) your letter will be even more eco-friendly.

Busta fai-da-te | Do-it-yourself envelope

First you fold the long side (a little less than the half), then you turn the upper edge and lastly you fold along the short sides, sealing the flaps with some paper tape. (If you search on Google, you find many other methods.)

Do you need a bigger and more durable envelope? Cut the sides of a cardboard box, then you fold it as you would do with a paper sheet and you seal it with some tape.

Alternatively, you can buy paper or cardboard only envelopes, in a stationery or print shop and similar. Everything without plastic padding, obviously. (To protect valuable or breakable items, read the paragraph below.)

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Packets and boxes

The fundamental raw material we need are cardboard boxes. Whenever you can, keep some of them aside (after all, they’re useful for many other purposes).

If you don’t have any, you can go to your favourite bar, restaurant, to a hotel nearby, supermarkets and so on. They frequently receive products from suppliers, so they always have some extra boxes you could ask for.

Scatoloni riciclati | Recycled boxes

A good advantage is that boxes can always be resized and adapted with excellent accuracy to the content. A smaller volume means less shipping expenses!

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Stuffing materials

Now that we have the container, we have to figure out how to protect the objects inside. Depending on their fragility, appropriate precautions are needed. The temptation to wrap everything with bubbles is strong, but don’t be discouraged, here you have valid alternatives!

Newspapers and magazines (periodicals, puzzler magazine, inserts…). Collect the ones you buy or ask in bars, diners or wherever newspapers are made available to customers, if they can give you the old ones (instead of trashing them).

▪ Expired phone books; advertising mail (flyers, brochures, catalogues).

Ratty clothes, too ruined to be donated or sold. You can cut and decompose them into cloth rags, which are ideal for wrapping fragile items, for example, made of glass.

Envelopes and packaging obtained from online purchases (or other ways). When you don’t succeed to convince a seller to avoid plastic packaging and stuffing, at least you can keep it for your shipments.

▪ If you are a producer (or seller), buy only ecological packaging (recycled paper or cardboard based); if you are a reseller, keep all packaging you get from suppliers.

Imballaggi ecologici | Ecological packagings

Paper can be used to wrap the goods or to line the bottom and sides of the boxes (after being crinkled and balled up), to protect them from shocks.

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Additional protections and taping

It’s hard to trust curriers with very delicate and valuable goods: we often stay with bated breath until they’re delivered to the recipient. Here you have some suggestions to increase the shipment’s security, making your packet ironclad!

Pieces of cardboard, overlaid if necessary: insert them between the various items, preventing them to hit each other, or wrap them, as you would do with bubble wrap.

▪ Wood sticks, pieces of wood/other solid and light materials, chopsticks (from Chinese restaurants or take away): tie them directly to the most breakable items or place them in between.

To seal the envelopes or boxes, use paper tape. You find stronger ones at the hardware store. (Naturally, avoid the ones packed into plastic, to not spoil all the effort taken till now.)

To enforce packets and boxes, especially if they’re big and have to travel on long trips, bond them with pure cotton kitchen string. Then you cover and fix the string with some extra tape.

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Useful technical instructions

Almost all shipping websites give advices on how to pack boxes and envelopes correctly. Here the most important ones, with some considerations.

▪ «Use boxes and packaging that are in good conditions, without labels and bar/QR codes.» – Remove or cover them with some tape.

▪ «Specify if you are shipping breakable goods.» – Write «fragile» on the box and draw a few arrows showing the top.

▪ «Always write sender and recipient on each box or envelope

▪ «Do not use paper tape, strings or laces.» – You can use them, but the tape has to be robust, to stick strongly and to cover all strings. (Those have to be thin and well tightened, but they aren’t essential.)


Now your packages and envelopes won’t be damaged, not even if they fall from a running truck!  🚛💨 📦 😁

Do you know other ecological materials and techniques for shipments? Do you often ship? Share this article with any online selling enthusiast you know, among your friends or relatives, for example. Or with sellers to whom you would like to explain the importance (and methods) of avoiding plastic and unnecessary waste in packaging. 🙂

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