I've really been struggling with packaging lately. I want the things I make to arrive beautifully packaged. I do think that's part of the experience, and I want to put the same care into the packaging of the product that I do into the making.
At the same time, I think that packaging is a huge source of waste, and I abhor the preponderance of packaging that litters our marketplace and, ultimately, our landfills. I read something on BaublesButtonsBeads blog banner (now there's a mouthful) that said "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I've heard it before, but it was nice to be reminded, especially since -- for the most part -- I try to live by that philosophy.
For this reason, I started making little origami boxes out of paper that would otherwise be considered trash. One of my favorite instances of this is the little boxes I made out of the pages of a Thomas Guide which lost its usefulness after I got a navigation system for my car.
This box is perfect for the little earrings I was making, and I was able to make a larger one for the bracelets. The problem then becomes shipping. The box itself isn't sturdy enough to stand up to being shipped in an envelope, so instead of shipping in a Priority Mail flat-rate envelope, I need to ship in a small box.
Acquiring small boxes turned out to be easy -- I was at Staples one day (no endorsement should be inferred) and they were unpacking an abundance of school supplies. There was a cart full of little boxes, and after asking the store associate, I greedily pilfered the best of them. I was at Henry's a few days later (feel free to infer an endorsement here, I love Henry's) and did the same. So as far as boxes in which to ship, I'm golden!
I got an order for a tree trio last week, and was scrambling to find a packaging solution when I unearthed some of the lighter-weight boxes that pens were shipped in. I came up with what I think is a swell solution. I took a paint swatch, stamped my logo on it, and glued it over the logo on the box. The trees nestled in quite happily.
I tied a piece of jute around the box, then put them inside another, sturdier box, and off they went! I have to admit, it was pretty adorable!
Yesterday I got an order for two sets of bowls. One was listed as being sent in a handmade origami box, with a picture of said box. This is one that I made from cutting apart a gift bag which had ripped. The box itself is pretty, but not as sturdy as I would like. My bext problem was that the second set of bowls she ordered was MUCH larger, and wouldn't fit into the same box. I found a box from Crate & Barrel which I turned inside-out and tied with some gorgeous ribbon. Each box, individually, was lovely, but together, did not create the experience I would have wished. I found it a little jarring, in fact.
I put both boxes into yet another free box, this one from Henry's, which again, I turned inside out.
I'm less satisfied with this solution, and extremely irritated at the amount of time it took me to put it together. Any profit I might have made on that sale was negated by the hours -- yes, HOURS! it took me to package it. Part of it is that I'm so disorganized right now, and part of it is that I don't have a system -- every time I package something, I have to experiment with a bunch of different options just to find one that works.
At this point, it would probably be easier AND cheaper to just buy some damn pre-made boxes. But I'm so not okay with that. I am really conscious of the impact I have on the environment, and even though I reuse everything I get time and time again, I can't control whether or not someone else does.
Unfortunately, every minute (or hour) that I spend making packaging is another minute (or hour) that I'm not making money. And as I am just barely scraping by as it is, it's something I need to carefully consider, and find a viable solution for.
And if and when I do, you can bet you'll be the first to know!