Revival Vintage, as a business, has been into reusing clothing since 2003. Personally, the owners have been wearing vintage and second-hand clothing since the 1980s. We have certainly never been into fast fashion either! However, as our main business is selling online we realised that we were sending out lots of single-use plastics and other materials making it hard for our customers to recycle. To us, that was not good enough so here's how we are going to start to make our online packaging materials more environmentally friendly.
Single-Use and unrecyclable packaging
We previously used a few different bags and boxes to send out our vintage clothing etc. For small items such as shirts, dresses we used about 3 different sized plastic bags which seal with a sticky strip on one end. Other than that, for outer packaging, we use boxes of several sizes but seal those with sellotape again made from plastic. For fragile items, we used plastic bubble wrap inside the boxes. So all though it may be therapeutic to pop the bubbles between your fingers it's still plastic!
The problems with these materials are that most were not really recyclable or biodegradable. The boxes are recyclable and biodegradable but there was still the plastic tape left on the box which doesn't degrade (not for a very very long time anyway). Although there is a way of getting plastic bags recycled they must be taken to specialized companies and so it's not straightforward for people. So if it's not easy what are the chances folk will go to the trouble of getting this waste to the right place and not into landfill? I wager not a very high chance, to say the least.
How we got more eco-friendly with our packaging
In our opinion, the worse offender for not being eco-friendly was the plastic posting bags. We were sending hundreds out each month and after thinking about it realised an extremely high proportion of these bags would go to landfill. Some may even end up in the sea.
The big question for us was how could we phase these plastic bags out? It's not like perhaps in a store who could offer paper bags or even ask customers to supply their own bags. We couldn't do without the bags and use all boxes as, to be frank, it would just cost a lot more and we'd probably be forced to pass some of the cost to you our customers. As with most research now, we searched the internet for answers. After a while, we eventually found bags which fit the purpose perfectly. It was a 100% Recycled Biodegradable Mailing Bag! They are made from 100% recycled plastic TICK and was biodegradable TICK. These bags will degrade and physically disintegrate within 12-24 months depending on the environment they are placed. The best place is in your regular compostable bins that most households have and are collected by their local council. They can also be placed on a home compost heap but they are likely to take much longer to biodegrade completely, therefore, it's not recommended.
That was the bags sorted out but what about the sellotape used on the boxes? The boxes weren't the issue because they are fully biodegradable but they weren't self-seal so we need something to do that. Again a good old Google search helps us out by pointing us to Biodegradable Brown Kraft Paper Tape. As the name suggests it is a tape made from brown kraft paper which sticks straight onto cardboard by using a biodegradable sticky substance. At the time of writing this, we are still testing it but so far we love it not only because of it's eco-credentials it gives a much better presentation to the sealed box. As the tape is fully recyclable it can be left on the box to go into card recycling. A household would place these boxes in the appropriate colour bin, which in Kirkless where we are is green.
The cost of switching to these more eco-friendly products does come at a cost. They are between 2 and 3 times more expensive. However, be assured that this will not be passed on to you the customer.
Inside packaging and Exceptions
Bubblewrap is a funny one because if you think about it it's not necessarily single use. We have, for a long time, saved any bubble wrap we've had from packages we've received to use again. In fact, many's the time that family have come to visit clutching a bundle of bubble wrap they've saved for us to use! Anyhow, we have decided to use a substitute bubble wrap that is made from recycled paper which does the job well and can be put in your recycling bins along with the card. We're going to continue saving used plastic bubble wrap though simply because it can be used again and again.
Since we began we've used tissue paper to wrap clothing before being placed in the bag or box. That we continue to happen and of course that can be easily recycled. However, the reproduction items we offer come to us packed in clear cellophane bags. There is not much we can do about that, at the moment at least, therefore customers may still receive an inner bag like this.
Other exceptions to our use of eco packaging could be that some couriers provide their own branded bags which they expect us to use. This won't happen too often as we only use these couriers for express services and we sending overseas. We also still have stock of the larger bags which we will use for the time being until finished.
In conclusion, Revival is dedicated too vastly reduce the use of single-use plastics and unrecyclable packaging products. And we feel that is other companies and individuals had a similar approach our world would have a better chance of reversing climate change.