Building a sustainable studio, Part 3: Packaging and shipping.
Part 1 of this series talked about the ins and outs of responsible stone sourcing. Part 2 was about building the jewelry with responsibly sourced and reclaimed metals. The last step is one I enjoy also: packaging and shipping.
Why do I enjoy that part? When I was a young girl, I used to go with my mom to a department store near us called McAlpin's whenever she needed to buy a shower or wedding gift. It was where brides used to register, back before the days of Target! My favorite part was always after the shopping, when we would take the gift to the gift wrap department. They had these giant rolls of glossy colored paper on the walls, and wrapped gift boxes displaying each paper color and ribbon color, so you could choose by number. My mom would often let me pick colors and then the lady behind the counter would work her magic, tearing that great big sheet of paper and making tight creases at the corners, using that super-clear tape and, lastly, adding that big beautiful bow!
McAlpin's isn't around anymore and I don't use glossy paper. These days, I make conscious choices about my packaging to minimize my impact on the earth.
Boxes: Each piece of jewelry you purchase from River and Birch comes packed ready to give in a jewelry box tied with a ribbon. The boxes I've selected are dark gray and are made from recycled materials and my hope is that if the recipient doesn't store the piece in the box that it will at least be reused or recycled.
These days, I make conscious choices about my packaging to minimize my impact on the earth.
Each box contains cotton fill for cushion and it also inhibits tarnish. Each necklace, pair of earrings or bracelet is put on a card made from recycled paper, wrapped in tissue paper that is imparted with an anti-tarnish agent (great for storage or can be recycled) and comes with a tiny care card. The one part I am still trying to replace is the tiny zip-top bag that I put the loose part of necklace chains inside. I don't like to use the plastic, but I would hope the bags would be reused for safe and tarnish-free storage. This is something I have been seeking a replacement for in a paper option, but have not found the right thing yet! (Hopefully I can provide an update to that here soon!) Edit 12/6/19: I am happy to add that I have found biodegradable zip-top bags that now hold all of the chains for the necklaces I make and ship!
Mailing: I ship the majority of my orders in Eco-enclose rigid padded mailers. They are made from recycled Kraft paper and provide cushion without any plastic. I will always use the smallest mailer I can while ensuring that the contents will arrive safely. For expedited shipping I use USPS Priority Mail small flat rate boxes, which are recyclable cardboard and for larger orders I use small recyclable cardboard boxes. I add extra cushion to all of my packages using shredded Kraft paper, which are also recycled materials.
The smaller I can keep the packages, the less material has to be disposed of or needs to be recycled. I like that I can control the amount of materials going out in the mail and ultimately to the trash (or hopefully to the recycling bin!), and am constantly on the lookout for more ways to trim down materials. It also helps to keep my shipping costs down.