12 Ideas for Eco-friendly Packaging for Small Businesses in 2023

by Stanley


E-commerce is not just about getting sales in the coming years. You have to do a lot more than just offer quality products at competitive costs. 

With the ever-increasing competition for the same product in e-commerce, it takes a lot of effort to positively impact your customers and earn their loyalty. 

But if you had reached this article, it would have meant that you had already set your direction right. Using eco-friendly packaging is probably the best solution for small businesses to earn repeat customers. That’s where the real money is. 

In this article, you will explore some exciting ideas to pack your products that are not only impressive but eco-friendly too. 

Let’s start. 

What Is Eco-friendly Packaging?

Eco-friendly packaging refers to packaging that doesn’t hurt the environment. It uses biodegradable materials that easily decompose if they are wasted. 

eco friendly packaging for small business

Eco-friendly packaging is not only safe for the environment but is equally safe for the products and customers. 

Unlike harmful packaging that is made of materials like plastics and toxins, eco-friendly packaging is more natural and organic. 

As the world is becoming more conscious about environmental protection, it is high time to turn your random buyers into long-term customers. 

Benefits of Eco-friendly Packaging for Small Businesses

Before jumping into the ideas, let’s discuss what benefits eco-friendly packaging can bring to your business. 

Increases Sales 

Bio-degradable or eco-friendly packaging can increase your sales dramatically. Buyers who value the environment would prefer to buy from your business. There is a high chance that they will buy again from your store.. 

Attracts New Customers 

Your eco-friendly packaging makes you highly likely to get new customers. To attract new buyers, you can use the buzzwords like eco-friendly, reusable, compostable, etc. 

Existing customers might also refer your business to their peers if they are impressed. 

Competitive Advantage 

If two businesses are selling the same product, an environment-loving customer will most probably buy from the one that uses eco-friendly packaging. That gives a competitive advantage. 

Elevates the Brand’s Image 

Finally, eco-friendly packaging uplifts your brand’s image for good. It earns you extraordinary respect that will benefit you in many ways. 

It typically works great if you are running a private label business. 

Ideas for Eco-friendly Packaging for Small Businesses

The following are the latest eco-friendly packaging ideas for small businesses

The ideas are in no particular order. You can implement the one that best fits your business objectives. 

Here we go!

1. Simple Paper Box Packaging 

Don’t worry if you are in the start-up phase and can’t afford to invest a lot in packaging. You can use simple box packaging made of hard paper. 

Simple Box Packaging

Paper boxes are eco-friendly and they are readily available in the market. If you want to add some innovation or design to it, you can just add your company logo or a tagline using simple printouts.

Don’t forget to mention that your cardboard boxes are eco-friendly so your customers know that you value the environment even though your packaging is simple. 

Salient Features 

  • Low-cost packaging 
  • Recycled kraft
  • No customization required
  • Easily available

2. Fabric Packaging 

You can also use fabric to pack your products in style. You may have to pack it inside the traditional box for writing addresses, etc. 

Fabric Packaging

Your customers would love to have their products treated so well. Plus, they would also value your packaging idea. They can use this packaging to keep those products inside for future use. 

This will keep reminding them of your business. 

Salient Features 

  • Simple and lightweight
  • Reusable for your customers
  • Great flexible
  • Meant for specific products only

3. Reusable Packaging 

Reusable packaging refers to the type of packaging that can be used over and over again. It can either be used by your customers for storing their personal goods or by others who get hold of this packaging.

Reusable Packaging

You just need to work on the design of this packaging. The more impressive and innovative it is, the more the chances of it being reusable. Just don’t forget to label it with a “reusable” tag. 

Salient Features 

  • Multipurpose
  • Innovative and stylish 
  • A bit expensive 

4. Paper Bags Packaging 

Paper bags have gradually started replacing plastic bags. So, it is high time to introduce it in your business as soon as possible. 

Paper Bag Packaging

The time is not far when it may be mandatory for all businesses to use paper bags instead of harmful shopping bags. 

So, why not implement it proactively to earn a good reputation? You can brand your paper bags attractively so that it speaks volumes about your business. 

Just try to give an impression to the end-users that you have done it to save the environment. 

Salient Features 

  • Simple and useful
  • Low-cost packaging
  • Promotes brand’s name

5. Themed Paper Box Packaging 

These are paper boxes that are printed and colored according to your brand’s theme. Although it may be a bit expensive, it can attract many customers which is always good for the business. 

Themed Paper Board Packaging

You may not have to spend much on its design. A simple theme and business would also suffice. 

Salient Features 

  • Puts a strong impact on customers 
  • Makes the products valuable 
  • A little expensive packaging

6. Paper Mailer Packaging 

You must have seen poly mailers that are mostly made of plastic. While some of them claim to be 100% compostable, the best is to go for paper mailers that everyone trusts to be compostable. 

Paper Mailer Packaging

This will not be cost-effective for your business but will also look simple, decent, and elegant. It may also carry your business logo or any other detail that impress your customers. 

Salient Features 

  • Best for simple shape items 
  • Easily compostable 
  • Great user experience
  • Less product protection

7. Paper Wrap Packaging 

Nothing can beat simplicity and decency. You can just wrap your product with a simple plain paper to give it a clean look. 

Simple Paper Wrap Packaging

If that’s not enough, you can attach simple cards with your environment-saving message. This will also provide you a fair opportunity to write anything interesting about your brand too. 

Businesses often use writing paper as thin as tissue paper to support the environment. 

Salient Features 

  • Low-cost packaging 
  • Simple design
  • Eco-friendly recycled paper
  • Provides hand-written message opportunity

8. Breathable Fabric Packaging 

This packaging is made of porous fabric that holds the products while keeping them exposed to the environment. So, if your products need fresh air to remain intact, this is the packaging you should consider. 

Breathable Packaging

You can select the design of this packaging as per your product’s features. Just make sure to attach a note with your packaging that delivers your eco-friendly message. 

Your customers will value these bags as they can also use them for their personal items. 

Salient Features 

  • Best for perishable items 
  • Reusable by your customers
  • Long-lasting packaging

9. Seed Paper Bags  

These bags have seeds embedded inside the paper so if a user throws it on the ground, it has the ability to grow plants anywhere. Amazing concept, isn’t it?

Just look closely at the picture below. The dots you see on the bags are seeds. 

Seed Paper Bags

Many businesses that have adopted this packaging have nailed it – making it one of the most effective methods to conquer your eco-friendly customers. 

Although this packaging will require a higher investment, you can always cover it up in your prices. Your customers who are passionate about the environment will still buy from you. 

Salient Features 

  • Higher brand endorsement
  • True recyclable packaging 
  • Home compostable
  • Possibility to increase profit margins

10. Green Shopping Bags 

These bags look like the usual shopping bags for groceries. They are non-woven so they can easily decompose. You can use these compostable bags with a special theme like the one shown below. 

Green Shopping Bags

These bags are cheaper in cost. You can buy them in bulk for better price. They are strong and durable enough to use. 

Your customers can also use them for other purposes. It would be good if you can print your company’s logo so the end-users keep looking at it and start recognizing your brand. 

These bags are equally applicable to online and physical store sellers. 

Salient Features 

  • Cost-effective packaging solution 
  • Strong and reliable
  • Clear eco-friendly message

11. Compostable Mailers 

You can also use special mailer packaging that is easily compostable. These mailers are usually small in size and are used to pack smaller and relatively invulnerable products – just like packing peanuts. 

Compostable Mailers

These mailers are often used to pack consumable items but can also be used to pack various other types of products. You can check if your products can fit in these mailers. 

It can just be made up of compostable paper with something written over it. You can ask your mailer provider to write anything related to saving the environment. 

If you are going for custom packaging, you would surely relate the message to your brand. 

Salient Features 

  • Simple and easily compostable 
  • Best for eatables and related items 
  • Low-cost packaging

12. Returnable Packaging 

This can be one of the game-changing packaging ideas. You can offer returnable packaging to your customers in exchange for something beneficial – a discount on the next purchase. Just make sure that the packaging is strong enough to be used repeatedly.

Returnable Packaging

This idea can increase your sales and also strengthen your company’s connection with your customers. You can call this program an effort to save the environment. 

Just make sure that your customers return it undamaged. 

Salient Features 

  • Smart sales-boosting tactic
  • Saves costs for packaging every time
  • Secures repeat customers 

FAQs about Eco-friendly Packaging for Small Businesses

Let’s learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions about eco-friendly packaging for small businesses.

What Are the Eco-friendly Packaging Ideas for Large Businesses?

The same eco-friendly ideas we discussed for small businesses also apply to large companies. But they may be investing more in packaging. 

For example, they can use small pallets to protect sensitive items inside the packaging which are then returned to couriers to save the environment. 

What Are the Eco-friendly Packaging Materials?

Recycled material is often considered the best to develop sustainable boxes. 

The following materials help develop environmentally friendly packaging. 

  • Recycled or virgin paper pulp – cardboard
  • Kraft paper 
  • Hemp extracts – hemp plant 
  • Agricultural waste – mushrooms
  • Seaweed
  • Fruit and vegetable waste 
  • Sugarcane residue
  • Shrimp shells

Which Packaging Materials Are Not Eco-friendly?

Most people think that only plastic is the worst enemy of the environment. That’s almost correct but many other materials are hazardous enough to damage the environment. 

So, you should avoid using the following materials, which are not easily biodegradable. 

  • Wooden pulp cardboards
  • Bubble wraps 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Plastic sheets 
  • Polymers like low-density polyethylene
  • Polystyrene foam
  • Glass 

What Packaging Is the Cheapest and Most Eco-friendly in E-commerce?

The cardboard boxes that most sellers use are the cheapest and most eco-friendly in e-commerce. That’s the reason it is widely used to deliver online orders. 

These cardboard boxes are usually corrugated and are recyclable. You can rely on these boxes if you are not ready to introduce anything unique while still being eco-friendly.  

Can You Customize Your Own Eco-friendly Packaging?

Yes. Designing your own eco-friendly packaging can be simpler than you think. You can use the usual packaging like the corrugated boxes and tweak it to turn it into customized eco-friendly packaging. 

There are various ideas for doing it. Some of them are mentioned below. 

  • Paste your customized branded stickers on the boxes to deliver your eco-friendly messages.
  • Cover the boxes with special eco-friendly papers. 
  • Use printed tape to make the packaging look unique.


Sustainable packaging is the need of the hour. Even if you don’t care for the environment much, you would still have to play your part to reduce your carbon footprint when you start a business. 

This will not only increase your brand’s credibility but will also give you mental satisfaction. 

Why use harmful packaging when there are friendly alternatives available? If you want to source eco-friendly packaging from the best suppliers in China, ask for a free quote and we will guide you through everything. 

About the Author

stanley nieh ceo


Over 10 years of experience in foreign trade
Helped 2k+ clients improve their eCommerce businesses

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