How to send glass in the post, the zero waste way

Filed in Blog by on January 23, 2009 14 Comments
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cough syrup

You might remember, back in November,Β  Little Miss Green had a cough and I ordered some cough syrup for her. I usually make my own during the summer when all the herbs are in fine fettle, but this year I didn’t get around to it, so I had to part with some cash to buy it. Grrrrr.

Getting things in glass bottles in the post isn’t always a zero waste experience. Often people use bubble wrap or polystyrene to prevent breakages. In addition, we rely on plastic to protect against spills and leaks.

Fortunately, we were sent our bottle in a small corrugated cardboard sleeve, shown above.

It just goes to show that with a little insight and thought, you can send glass perfectly safely in the post without the need for any plastic or polystyrene. Wouldn’t it be great if all companies adopted these policies?

I know that Neals Yard are good – they send in cardboard boxes packed with edible / compostable packaging. The Natural Store send in cardboard boxes with tissue paper wrapped around items. AND you can get 10% off any purchase at any time by quoting GREATZEROWASTEOFFER

What about you – have you had any pleasant (or otherwise) surprises in the post? How about sharing the love of any companies who are particularly good with packaging in the comments below!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (14)

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  1. Michelle says:

    Great packaging! I am interested in the home made cough syrup. Would it be possible for you to post how you make yours or point me in the direction of a good book?

  2. ClaraP says:

    I got a bath-bomb for Christmas from LUSH, and it was in cardboard surrounded by popcorn! VERY impressed! Not that I fancied eating it after its contact with the main item πŸ˜‰

    My wonderful friend Clare F makes essential oil face creams at home. I order regularly – made my spots go away, reduced the lines around my eyes, made my skin glow, and even soothes my husband’s shaving rash.

    She sends her magical potions out in little glass jars, and I will be sending her a link to this page now.

    Thanks!

  3. Sarah says:

    Amazon! – My satnav arrived in a card box, packed with paper that I can recycle, reuse or compost – or use as pet bedding. Apart from removing the brown tape it’s minimal waste.

    I actually reused the box for sending out an Ethics Trading order and some of the paper padding for another order, the rest is here stashed for future orders.

  4. Layla says:

    WOW!! This is really interesting! So glad to see smart shop owners sending in zero waste packaging!! πŸ™‚

    /I wonder if the glass the bottle is made of is ‘extra resistant’ or if it was labelled ‘Glass – Extra carefully!’/

    Sarah, great to hear Amazon does well too.. – Was it from Amazon directly or one of their merchants?
    I wonder how Amazon sends books – zero waste too? (been putting off an order cause I thought, ‘tons of plastic’..) would be great to know..

  5. Sarah says:

    Actually, the first satnav was faulty and that one was in mostly cardboard but with a layer of tight shrink wrapped plastic holding it in place, the second one was in all paper padding. Both were direct from the Amazon warehouse in Swansea.

  6. I save all plastic packaging and reuse it. I just discovered a website where you can list used boxes for sale (US based). If I didn’t have a way to reuse packaging, I’d go to the trouble to find a local business that could use it.

  7. Laura says:

    I am only just starting this zero waste thing, but I reused my plastic carrier bags to wrap up my christmas decorations for storage. I have used carrier bags as padding to post breakable items. I know it’s not zero waste, but at least it’s reusing them.

  8. Sarah says:

    Watch out for the biodegradeable carriers for storing Xmas decs in – they turn to plastic confetti!

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @Michelle: Hi Michelle, I will post up the recipe for the cough syrup later in the year. You need seasonal herbs for it, so it’s best to post it up when it’s relevant. Watch this space πŸ™‚

    @ClaraP: Hey Clara, LUSH are great with their packaging, as are Neals Yard. I hope your friend gets some inspiration from this packaging.

    @Sarah: Good call for Amazon there Sarah – thank you! It’s good to hear of these companies improving their packaging all the time. It’s great that you are able to reuse it with your own company too. Good reminder about the biodegradable carrier bags being used for storage too πŸ˜€

    @Layla: There were no fragile warnings on the packaging and the bottle was just a regular amber bottle. I guess they don’t need to use ‘fragile’ because they know the packaging is sufficient!
    The last time I bought books from Amazon they arrived in cardboard packaging which I have kept for reuse. When I’m done with books I sell them back through Amazon and just reuse the same cardboard.

    @ThinkingWoman: Do you have a link, TW? I think many of our US friends might find this information useful. Freecycle is another great way to get rid of packaging. I put up a box of assorted envelopes, jiffy bags and bubble wrap and had 3 people after it!

    @Laura: Hi Laura, welcome to the site and to zero waste! I think it’s great that you are reusing perfectly good items around your home. Recycling should come LAST, with reducing and REUSING first in line. Are you local? Are you taking part in the Gloucestershire zero waste week?

  10. Kris says:

    That’s a familiar pic – I had some of that arrive a few months ago in the same sort of packaging. Mine was quite safe after travel too.

    Boots are a bit of a mixed bag – they send out their goods in overlarge boxes filled with brown paper from a perforated roll as filler. I always think it’s a decent filler and save it diligently – however it takes forever to refold and compress the stuff because they give you enough to wrap up a small town!

  11. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Katy, it’s great to see companies reusing materials and putting them to good use. The packaging Worn Again used sounded great, not to mention the product.

    Kris, we’ve had loads of that brown paper as a filler too. ELC are particularly bad for it. We use it as fire lighters most of the time because I know I wouldn’t store it very well.

  12. Jane says:

    Amazon do send ouit books just wrapped in a card sleeve if you are getting one or two. not sure if you order a box full!

    I recently moved house and was stuck with loads of boxes after unpacking. I freecycled and got rid of them all in two batches. seems like whatever we dont want, someone else does. thank goodness for the internet bringing these people together.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Jane, it’s good to see Amazon taking the environmental route with their packaging. I’ve had books in the cardboard sleeves you talk about, but many of them have been skrink wrapped in plastic too. Still, it’s a move in the right direction.
    Organisations such as Freecycle and SnaffleUp provide a great solution to our unwanted items.

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