As we pledge ourselves to fight the climate crisis where we can, it’s important to us to make sure we practice what we preach so we’ve written down a clear list of what packaging we use and where it comes from. We will update this section with every step forward we make in the fight against harmful packaging and although we do need to buy new packaging at times, we try to use what comes to us first, believing in the ‘reuse’ motto as a mantra.
Whilst we have made great strides forward in this, please note, it is a longer process than we initially hoped to change all packaging down every supply line. We are continuously reducing this down but as we buy mostly from small artisans, often in remote locations, it's harder than we hoped being able to source 100% environmentally friendly alternatives that are local to their workshops. However, this is our goal and we have made huge strides forward in achieving this.
We’ve detailed below both our incoming packaging from our suppliers and our outgoing packaging to you, the final customer.
Note: this Policy was created mainly for Shared Earth UK, our import/distribution business. Our shops too are ultra-keen to avoid unnecessary packaging, and recycle whatever they can. Landfill waste is almost zero, our York shop for instance recycling not just paper and plastic but glass, juice cartons, crisp packets, pens, tinfoil, computer hardware, even compost.
All outgoing orders from our warehouse
The chips that we use as cushioning are plant based chips and will break down naturally in water leaving no harmful effects. Whilst often mistaken for polystyrene, we can assure you they are completely natural, sustainable and non toxic and one of the most environmentally friendly options available.
For anything wrapped in bubble wrap from our warehouse, this is in fact recycled bubble wrap, made from recycled plastics. Some councils accept it locally for recycling but we ask you try to re-use or donate it before opting for other means of disposal. Please note, if an item ever seems overly protected, it's not through excess but through past experience when a number haven't survived the postage system. We never knowingly over package items, however, we do adjust and change constantly based on the latest feedback so feel free to tell us if you feel we have it wrong.
A lot of our products now come wrapped in paper instead of different forms of plastic. We often use paper to add extra cushioning to our orders but this is only when we have received it ourselves in our orders from abroad, opting to re-use before recycle.
As we post out high volumes of individual orders, we do have to buy in a percentage of new boxes in order to keep up with demand. However, our first step is to reuse boxes from our incoming shipments from our suppliers before this where we can. This may sometimes mean a box may seem bigger than it needs be but let us assure you, it’s not through excess but through availability. We prefer to use the resources we have before turning to new ones. All boxes can be re-used or popped into your household recycling.
Our current tape used to seal our boxes is a biodegradable plastic based tape. Whilst we recognise this is not ideal, we have been experimenting with paper based tape to replace it. However, whilst we have used various brands, none are as strong or reliable as the supplies we have left of the biodegradable tape. Whilst we work through what we have, we are looking at different brands and would happily take recommendations on any that have found to be exemplary.
We are also always happy if people would like to return any appropriate packaging to us for future use.. or even packaging they've received from elsewhere that isn't recyclable but can be reused. Please just drop it in to either of our shops:
Shared Earth, 1 Minster Gates, York YO1 7HL
Shared Earth, 71 Bold Street, Liverpool L1 4EZ
Our incoming orders from our artisans abroad
Shredded card and paper
A lot of our orders from our suppliers now come packed with shredded cardboard or paper. This is a simple but effective way of creating protection using recycled sources. This is especially the case for individual boxed items that previously contained bubble wrap for safety. This method has allowed us to dramatically reduce our dependence on bubble wrap to ensure the products get to us in one piece.
We’ve been able to replace the packaging on the vast majority of products from plastic to a more environmentally friendly paper wrap instead. This has reduced our reliance on bubble wrap and cellophane style bags tremendously.
Whilst some products have to come shipped in large plastic bags to ensure quality remains throughout shipping and damage isn’t incurred by damp, we’ve been able to increase the amount shipped per bag by vacuum packing larger amounts. This is especially true for the high volumes of scarves etc that we buy. However, we are always looking at a way to replace the plastic protection with a more environmentally friendly material.
Whilst we have removed a large portion of plastic from our supply chain, everything that we still have in plastic is either from older stock where it already existed or from an artisan who we are yet able to help upgrade the packaging they use due to local resources. This is an area in which we are working closely with our artisans to come up with practical alternatives. For most products, we have been able to swap to a paper based packaging, but for some items this is not practical and has required further exploration. This is a priority for us and we continue to make strides forward in it. However, some of the plastic we have left is now plant based bioplastic and whilst it looks like plastic, it is biodegradable and not harmful to the environment.
We have fully eliminated these from our supply chain and no longer use polystyrene as a means of protection.
We do still have some reliance on bubble wrap from our suppliers but we are working with them to eradicate it. However, we are very proud of the fact that we are almost there in finding more appropriate options for the remaining ranges.
All of our suppliers ship only in cardboard boxes for environmentally friendly reasons and whilst these are newly manufactured for that purpose, we ensure they all get reused our end before we buy new.
We have also done our best to reduce what packaging we use as a whole. Where appropriate we pack more items into a larger single box with dividers instead of using individual boxes per item. Any unnecessary packaging has been removed from many ranges already. This is an ongoing assessment and we welcome feedback on it.
Whilst we know we still have progress to make, we are proud of the huge changes we've made in trying to reduce any unnecessary or harmful packaging from source through the supply chain to our end customer.