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This is not only a huge opportunity to improve the unboxing experience, as dissatisfied customers will tell nine to 15 people about the negative experience, but also to educate customers. Providing them with information on why certain materials are being used, as well as how to recycle them, can be critical for improving the overall customer experience.

Changing packaging or adding more protective packaging elements can lead some eco-conscious consumers to believe that companies aren't choosing what’s best for the environment. Customers may also ask why you’re not using a different kind of material to ship your products.

And if you’re using something that may not be considered sustainable, it’s okay to explain why that material was chosen and the benefit it provides to your product and the consumer, whether it’s less damage, an extended shelf life, or less food waste. We can take a page from meal kit delivery companies and use creative packaging inserts and links to our website to explain to customers why this type of packaging was chosen (for example: to insulate fresh food and keep it at the right temperature).

From there, you can communicate the proper end-of-life treatment for the packaging. Bring your consumers along on the journey by providing them insight into how your company is continually working on creating more sustainable packaging choices. Ultimately, if a company can understand the impact shipping has on its sustainability efforts, choose the right packaging for the job, and educate its customers on the right packaging choices, it can reduce its carbon footprints and have real, tangible, corroborated results.

This affects greenhouse gas emissions, and we know that we need to create an actionable plan to mitigate these environmental repercussions. Doing this can help companies take real steps toward actually reducing their carbon footprint, so that sustainability efforts yield real, not mythical, results. 

Create an action plan

The missing link that turns sustainability into a tangible effort is an action plan. Companies can start by identifying sustainability goals, creating accountability and ownership of these goals, and partnering with other organizations that can help. This puts the how at the center of sustainability efforts, which is what many discussions are missing.

While these action plans can focus on the materials used in packaging, there are other actions that can be just as impactful that should be part of a sustainability plan.