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As a small e-commerce brand, you want your clothes to be delivered safely and in perfect condition to your customers. You also want to be as eco-friendly as possible! How do you balance protecting your items and ensuring the packaging does not negatively impact the environment?
Being eco-friendly is more than just wrapping boxes with recycled content. It does not have to be expensive, either. This article will share some tips for packing and shipping clothes, so you can save more while reducing your carbon footprint and being sustainable.
Factors to Consider When Shipping Clothes
Clothes are often “airy” and can be packed tighter than their natural volume. Doing this helps save shipping costs, as lighter, bulkier items are charged by volume weight, not actual weight. This also help reduces carbon footprints since smaller packages mean the truck can ship more items with fewer trips.
📷 by Arina Krasnikova | Clothes can be packed as compact as possible
Weight and length of the package
The shipping cost will primarily depend on your package’s dimensional weight and length. To reduce these costs, always use the lightest and smallest bag possible. This will reduce your expenses and also prevent the clothes from creasing. Avoid overstuffing your parcel since it makes the clothes susceptible to wrinkling.
Shipping One vs. Multiple Items
Shipping items together is more efficient and cost-effective due to volume discounts. If you are shipping multiple items, fold each cloth and place it in its separate packaging before placing it in a larger, single box. The box will keep all the clothes in peak condition until they arrive at their destination.
📷 by Hum Apparel | Encourage combining multiple purchases into one
The cloth fabric determines the type of packaging you’ll use. Cloths with delicate embroidery, print, or beadwork require you to use some cushioning. You can use tissue paper or Kraft paper as eco-friendly alternatives. If unavailable, you can fold the garments inwards, with the fabric acting as the protective layer.
Remember: While corrugated boxes are best for packing heavy items such as thick denim and leather coats, they can still get wet. Opt for waterproof biodegradable mailers, which will provide your fabric with moisture protection if the package gets damp during transit.
Tips for Folding Clothes
Proper folding of clothes makes them look presentable and professional, which will enhance the customer’s unboxing experience. Folding keeps the apparel compact, which will also minimize your shipping costs. You can apply different folding styles, but you should adhere to these core principles:
- Always use a clean, flat surface.
- The cloth should fold into a neat rectangular shape.
- Straighten the seams, zip up, and button all the buttons from top to bottom.
- Keep the clothes tidy, and wrinkle-free.
📷 by Ron Lach Clothes should be folded in a neat rectangle shape
Quick Tips for Folding Clothes
- Fold one side of the shirt towards the center.
- Fold the shirt’s sleeve back.
- Repeat the same on the other side of the shirt.
- Fold the shirt in half, with the bottom hem and the collar adjacent.
- Fold the shirt again in half.
- Straighten both the front and back pockets.
- Place one leg on top of the other.
- Fold the pants in halves or thirds, depending on the size.
- Fold in the sides of the sweater towards the center.
- Fold the sleeves downwards until they align with the hem.
- Fold the sweater in half, starting from the bottom.
- If it’s still too big, fold it again in half.
Check out this cool video from Marie Kondo on how to fold clothes neatly.
Eco-friendly Materials For Clothes
Glassine bags help protect clothes with beads or intricate designs. These pouches are light and smooth, made from virgin paper material, and free from coatings and dyes. While glassine bags may be dust resistant, they’re still not waterproof and will need outer packaging to protect them from moisture.
📷 by Ecoenclose | Check their curbside recyclable glassine bags
Pro-Tip: Do not use extra cushioning unless the clothes have delicate beads or crystal designs that can potentially be damaged while in transit. The unnecessary use of Kraft or shredded paper only adds to the packaging waste and the product's weight.
Check out this Glassine Packaging from Eco Enclose
Eco Bands are essentially biodegradable wraps made from recycled Kraft paper. They are suitable for businesses that opt to roll clothes instead of folding them. You will maximize storage space while minimizing your shipment costs.
Since Eco Bands are flexible and sturdy, they will keep the clothes compact and separate for multiple shipments. Additionally, they are easy to customize for brand identity and showcase your business’s commitment to environmental sustainability efforts.
📷 by Ecoenclose | Check their custom eco bands
Biodegradable Mailer Bags
Mailers are tough and reliable packaging solutions that protect your clothes from moisture, weather, and other damages. Despite being made from 100% biodegradable material, they are more durable and withstand the rigors of shipping better than glassine bags and Eco Bands.
They come equipped with a tamper-proof adhesive seal strip that ensures maximum security of your shipment during transit. You can reuse biodegradable mailers several times, and on disposal, they will naturally break down after a short period.
📷 by Peony Collections | Check how they pack their products using our bags
They are primarily made from Kraft paper or cello tape. Kraft paper tapes are blended with natural adhesive rubber. It is a strong seal that can easily be torn for quick unpacking.
Alternatively, you can also use cello tapes made from cellulose derived from a plant. 100% cellulose tape is scarce and quite pricey. Some manufacturers opt to use synthetic rubber for adhesiveness to make it more affordable. These tapes are renewable, but you’ll need to bring them to industrial facilities for composting.
Remember: The tape you settle for should be wide enough to ensure all the seams of the package are tightly sealed. This wide coverage will ensure maximum security of your parcel and that no moisture or water seeps in.
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Stamps as Alternative to Stickers
Stamps strike a balance between cost efficiency and sustainability. They are cheaper to produce and customize than stickers. More so, they add a personal touch to the packaging with appeal more to your customers. Remember to always stamp the mailers on a flat surface before inserting the clothes.
Size Chart For Different Packaging Materials
The size of packaging materials is usually predetermined, and it’s up to you to choose which size is the best suitable for your needs. The length and width of the cloth folded or rolled is usually the reference point.
Glassine bags have 5 distinctive sizes to accommodate various cloth types. The bags have an allowance room of 1.5 inches (3.81 cm).
Glassine Bag Size Chart
|SIZE||DIMENSIONS (IN)||WEIGHTS (LBS)||APPAREL THAT CAN FIT|
|6 × 8 in.||0.0095||Socks, Gloves|
|S||8 × 9.75 in.||0.0137||T-shirts|
|M||9.75 × 11.75 in.||0.0147||Shirts, Dresses, Pants|
|L||11.75 × 15.75 in.||0.0216||Sweaters, Denims|
|XL||13.75 × 19.75 in.||0.029||Leather Jackets|
For a small business, the more you buy, the more you'll save. The volume discounts range from 5% to 15%, depending on the units purchased.
The cloth can be either rolled or folded. Here is a simple guide on finding the appropriate dimensions for your mailer bag:
Length: Length + Height of your cloth + 2 inches (5.08 cm)
Width: Width + Height of the cloth + 0.5 inches (1.27 cm).
The mailer bag's dimensions should equal or exceed the recommended measurements. The extra space allowance prevents the fabric from creasing and the package from collapsing. These are the usual items you can fit in the standard-sized mailer bags.
Size Guide for Mailer Bags
|APPAREL||10 × 13 IN. MAILER BAG||14.5 × 19 IN. MAILER BAG|
|Tshirts||2-3 pcs.||4-5 pcs.|
|Sweaters||1 pc.||2-3 pcs.|
|Pants/Jeans||1 pc.||2 pcs.|
|Dress||1 pc.||2-3 pcs.|
|Baby Bodysuits||4-5||6-8 pcs.|
|Fabric||1 yard of fabric||3 yards of fabric|
The length of the band should be able to overlap your folded clothing slightly. Overlapping allows you to use an eco-friendly adhesive sticker or tape to seal it securely. Glue guns and stickers are also viable sealing options. Here's what you can wrap using eco bands:
Size Guide for Eco Bands
|SIZE (L × W)||APPAREL IT CAN WRAP|
|11 × 4.25 in.||T-shirts|
|14 × 4.25 in.||Long-sleeved shirts, dresses, jeans, shorts|
|17 × 5.5 in.||Sweaters, jackets, winter wear|
Note: The 450 feet (137.16 m) Eco Band is also available. It’s a continuous roll and wider, making it more versatile and ideal for volume orders.
Is it better to roll or fold the clothes?
If you are hoping for an excellent first impression when unpacking, folding is a far superior option. Folding reduces creasing and wrinkling as the clothes are en route to your customer. Rolling clothes may save more space, but it may not be suitable for e-commerce businesses since the clothes may come out crumpled.
📷 by Teaching and Tees
When is the ideal time to shift to custom packaging?
For an e-commerce business, branding is essential. Switch to custom packaging when your order volumes increase significantly. It becomes cheaper to source these supplies through mass production and trade discounts. You can also hedge the acquisition costs against the product pricing without increasing it significantly.
Tell Your Story with Style
You don’t have to break your bank ordering custom eco-friendly packaging solutions. There are numerous stylish and sustainable options you can choose that best reflect your brand’s style and values.
As much as you want to give your customer a pleasant unboxing experience, it would be best if you tamed wasteful packaging. Packaging materials should primarily focus on protecting the product during shipment to enhance environmental conservation efforts. Use packaging supplies made from reusable, recyclable, and compostable materials.
Got any savvy packaging suggestions? Tell us in the comments!
Also Read: Eco-friendly Packaging Tips for Jewelry