I have a guilty pleasure. I have a passion for packaging.
Not the oversized bows and Styrofoam kind. But the delicate string that ties up the beautiful wrapping, which coats the snug box, that holds the crisp and understated tissue paper protecting a mysterious gift or long awaited delivery inside.
The anticipation, the unwrapping, the opening, the discovery of what’s inside is almost as exciting as the gift itself. With it comes all the nostalgia of birthdays, christmas’s, holidays, celebrations and milestones from our past.
It was a given that packaging was going to be an important part of The White T-shirt Co - we're an on-line business, our t-shirts need posting. We're a 100% committed to our responsibilities so ethically could I indulge my passion just a little? This topic threw up more debates and dilemmas than any other part of our re-launch.
We don't have a ‘real’ shop so we can’t hand over our t-shirt personally; we need to rely on a friendly postman to provide the first physical engagement with us. That moment to me is really important; it's the moment when we show the quality and care that goes into our t-shirts – it’s the moment of pleasurable anticipation before starting to unwrap. Excess packaging is a cost to the environment though, and in an industry where there is already enough waste we weren’t comfortable with adding more to landfill. Can you see the dilemma?
We wrestled with indulgence vs. ethics, recycled over up-cycled, PCW [post-consumer waste] over Tree Free Paper. There were many key decisions to consider and so the dilemma went on because above everything we wanted to do the right thing and we needed to be sure that we met Our Ethical Promise and GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) requirements.
So readers, in the end this is what we chose to do:
- We minimize wastage: Our cleverly designed boxes adapt to fit from one to multpile t-shirts. Our boxes are unglued and flat packed to save on production and storage. We ask customers if we can re-use their box if they need to exchanges an item. We operate a cradle to grave policy.
- We maximise our sustainable options: We use unvarnished, unprinted carton board for our postal boxes which are biodegradable and recyclable. We only use re-cycled and renewable materials that are FSC approved. We use vegetable inks, no tape and when we do indulge in a bit of gift wrapping it's from re-cycled materials. The only polythene in our business is the bags used to protect our t-shirts. These are re-cycled LD-PE but we're aiming to replace these too as soon as we can.
- We're source carefully: All our packaging is sourced locally and only from FSC licensed suppliers; so we have a transparent chain of custody throughout our supply chain. We only use suppliers who are ISO 14001 [Quality] accredited and ISO 9001[environmental] accredited.
We’re not stopping here either; as we grow we’ll have more muscle, can meet more minimum quantities for more sustainable solutions and we can start our own recycling projects.
In the meantime have I vindicated my guilty pleasure, the emotional engagement with our packaging? Have we balanced functional practicality with sustainability? I guess we’ll not know until your t-shirt arrives on your doorstep – please let us know.