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Paper Mailing Bags - How to Ship Sustainable Fashion

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The Paper Mailing Bag Sustainable Fashion

If you’re in the business of sending sustainable clothing or "slow fashion" items and accessories through the post, then paper mailing bags, or padded paper bags, are an ideal option, cost-effective and practical as well as aesthetically pleasing.

What’s more, paper mailers offer a level or security that can’t be matched by their out-dated plastic alternatives; they’re strong, tear proof and manufactured from high quality raw materials. And another big plus point when it comes to using paper mailing bags is – and this is probably no surprise - their sustainability.

Ecologically sound and up to the task

Unfortunately, not all products designed to be recycled end up being recycled, which defeats their purpose and is a wasted opportunity. However, there’s never a wasted opportunity with a paper mailing bag!

Should they inadvertently be discarded or thrown away, they’re completely biodegradable. It’s even possible to chuck them on the compost heap: they’re not harmful to animals (land, sea or air) or plants (edible or inedible) and they take less than a month to break down.

Photo of a hand holding an Organic Padded Paper mail bag in front of a box of padded paper mail bags

But, one of the very best things about paper bags is that, well, they’re paper! This means they’re easy to re-employ because paper doesn’t need to be washed or sterilised between uses. It’s also extremely unlikely they’ll fall apart because of the fact that paper can be incredibly robust; it’s straightforward to manufacture bags to be both tough and durable.

Responsible manufacture

So, it’s all very well feeling smug when you make the move to paper or cardboard based products – most of us get a warm glow when we feel we’re making changes to protect our planet - but too often, the focus remains on the recyclability end of the stick rather than the manufacture. Naturally, it’s great that something can be recycled, we’re not denying that, but none of us want a product’s very production to undo any gains made from it being reusable.

And that’s why there’s no point in switching to paper bags if it’s their carbon footprint alone that’s smaller. Yes they might be compostable and yes, they can be re-employed multiple times, but it’s imperative that the impact of producing them in the first place is also considered.

Anybody serious about the business of cardboard and paper packaging will want to mitigate – if not eradicate – the threat of forest loss, acidification (pH changes in the oceans) or eutrophication (excessive richness of nutrients). And all these things can arise as a direct result of the production of “green” paper products.

That’s why The Packaging Club sources paper mailers from manufacturers that have certification from the Forest Stewardship Council and are registered with the Carbon Neutral Company.

The FSC is an international, non-government organisation, which is dedicated to promoting the responsible management of the world’s forests. The Carbon Neutral Company signifies that a business, product or even an event has achieved carbon neutrality in line with The Carbon Neutral Protocol.

Accreditation with both of these independent, not-for-profit organisations means that companies have proved themselves committed to being a climate-neutral company at both ends of the supply chain. It signifies a move away from the previous economic model of “take, make and throw away”.

Climate neutrality is all about achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring those emissions are equal (or less than) the emissions that are removed through the planet’s natural absorption. You can learn more about that here.

Along with our manufacturers, The Packaging Club wants to ensure the products we sell are in use for as long as possible. In a nutshell, this means they’re sustainable, but equally importantly, they need to be manufactured sustainably; they need to be climate neutral.

Paper mailing bags and inclement weather – the big ‘non issue’

So, the bags are in existence, they’ve been produced responsibly. Now let’s take a closer look at the actual things themselves… As already mentioned, paper mailers are so strong that they’re virtually tear and tamper-proof. However, there are those out there who might argue that in a rainstorm, they’re about as much use as a broken umbrella. Doesn’t paper go soggy in the rain? And soggy paper disintegrates and allows wetness through, right?

When shipping a product, whatever it’s packaged in, there is a chance - however small - that it might be damaged. This happens for a variety of reasons and those reasons include inclement weather. But how likely is it that a paper mailing bag will end up being subject to rain, snow, hail and (insert your choice of precipitation here)? Not very, to be honest.

Are the chances that a paper-mailing bag will get wet somewhere along the delivery chain one in ten or more likely, one in a hundred? And whatever the risk, does it justify wrapping every package in plastic? Which course of action would do more harm when viewed as a part of an overall strategy, a strategy that takes customers, their standpoint on the environment as well as the actual environment into consideration?

If you’re considering paper packaging, wet weather may be a concern for you, but we can assure you that it’s actually a non-issue. Take a look at this article for an enlightening read – the results of its studies may surprise you.

Paper = marketing opportunities

We’re willing to bet that customer demand for sustainable packaging makes individuals happy to put up with the miniscule risk of a soggy delivery. And yes, paper mailers are paper, but nowadays, they’re designed to be water-resistant, meaning the chances of them actually getting soggy are more or less negligible.

Photo of a peel and seal padded paper mail bag made from kraft paper

Add to that the fact they’re made from biodegradable kraft paper and they really are the perfect alternative to polybags or plastic mailing bags. Plus, paper means personalisation! A paper product can be personalised easily and cost-effectively and means an easy win when it comes to connecting with customers and increasing the visibility of your brand. Paper makes sense whichever way you look at it.

Paper has come a long way since its invention (about 2000 years ago in China, if you’re interested). Paper bags have also come a long way. Invented by Francis Wolle from the USA in 1850, it was Margaret Knight in 1870 who then designed and patented a machine that could produce them in great numbers with a flat bottom increasing capacity. In 1883, Charles Stilwell developed Knight’s design further and the paper bag has never looked back. One thing was as clear then as it is now: companies loved them because they were affordable, useful and so easy to brand. The Packaging Club loves them for all these reasons and also, because they’re sustainable.

If you would like to talk to us about our paper mailers, or indeed, any of our paper or cardboard-based products, then don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’ll help you get your branding ideas off paper and onto product and your delivery routine firmly in the bag.

This article was written by...

Jo Hilton

I studied at the University of St. Andrews and have an MA in French and German. For a number of years, I worked for a Swiss financial institution and lived in Hamburg, London, Zürich and NYC before retraining as a primary school teacher and settling with my family in Cambridgeshire. When I'm not at school, I write content for various blogs and edit academic research articles for clients at ETH Zürich and the University of Munich. I'm also in the process of completing a Masters in Crime and Thriller writing at the University of Cambridge, so behind me you'll find a trail of fictional dead bodies and actual biscuit wrappers.

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