Saving the planet one bag at a time

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has spiced up public debate over climate change, asking politicians worldwide to pay attention and take action to protect the environment

But it’s not just politicians who must act. Every one of us can make choices that will help save the planet, whether it’s reducing the number of times we fly (a major source of damaging CO2 emissions) or making eco-friendly business decisions.

How can my business help?

Business owners everywhere owe it to their customers, and to the next generation, to reduce their impact on the environment. You might think there’s little you can do to help, but every tiny step becomes a giant leap when enough people are motivated to act.

Beyond banning bottled water and encouraging employees to walk to work, you can also look more carefully at your corporate image. Today, customers value green credentials in a business that tries at every step to do the right thing.

Let’s look at how something as small as your choice of printed recycled paper bags can influence both how customers see you, and your impact on the environment.

Choosing the right bag

Suppose you’re a high end fashion brand and have historically used printed plastic bags at point of sale. Now that you’ve seen the impact of plastic waste on wildlife (not to mention the plastic bag tax, shortly to increase to 10p and cover all retailers) you are keen to make a change. So what are your options?

Recycled Paper Bags

Using recycled products saves resources. So, using printed recycled paper bags for your packaging is saving fresh trees from being made into paper. There’s no compromise on quality either: recycled paper is available in different thicknesses and can reinforced so that your paper bag suits your product, whilst careful choices in printing, handles and finish can still give a luxury feel.

Choose Paper Bags that can be re-used

Environmentally-friendly paper bags have become chic now that society is turning away from plastic. So you are likely to see your luxury paper bags re-used as customers enjoy the feeling of doing good. A well-made paper bag with an eye-catching print or clever use of handles and finish makes a perfect gift bag, and is likely to be passed from person to person during its lifetime. The fact that this means your business name and logo are seen more widely is an added bonus!

There is also a growing trend for upcycling and recycling paper bags for craft projects. Take a look at the cool ideas here, including paper lanterns and luxury lunch bags. The more use that can be obtained from every paper bag the better.

Recycle Paper Bags

When your packaging eventually reaches the end of its useful life, your choice of bag can have even greater impact. Paper and card are some of the easiest materials for the public to recycle, with most councils and many businesses providing recycling facilities. If you’ve made green choices in your materials then your paper bags will be fully recyclable.

Luxury paper bags made of recycled paper or brown Kraft paper can safely be recycled, or will even decompose in garden compost heaps (saving fuel miles). Most glues used in the construction of recyclable paper bags, for instance to attach handles, are water soluble and will be simply removed in the standard recycling process.

If you want your custom paper bags to be fully recyclable, avoid a laminate finish, as this can make the paper resistant to the recycling process. Similarly, choose twisted paper or die cut handles rather than ribbon or rope, or you will need to remove the handles before recycling the bag.

It’s reassuring to know that if the worst happens and your paper bag ends up in the wild, at least it will decompose naturally rather than hanging around in fields or streams to pollute or ensnare.

What are the downsides of using recycled paper bags in my business?

Most printed recycled paper bags or kraft paper bags, such as those we supply at Luxury Paper Bags, are naturally brown in colour. This gives a valuable sense of connection to the earth, but it does mean you have to be careful when printing on the bags.
Sophisticated multi-coloured designs will usually include white areas, which are ‘printed’ by omitting any print and letting white paper show through. The effect does not work on brown (or any coloured) paper. Also, colour prints are easily soaked up by brown paper, meaning that their depth is reduced, and all colours will take on a browned hue when printed on brown paper.
The solution for printing on recycled or Kraft paper bags is to use simple, clean logos and larger fonts for text. Luckily these give an additional impression of quiet sophistication, perfectly suited to luxury eco-friendly packaging.

Do I need a bag at all?

Finally, it’s possible you don’t need a bag at all. Printed Tissue Paper provides sufficient protection for many products, and is just as easy to personalise. It’s easy to re-use, whether as a wrap or as padding, and is usually made from recycled materials which will easily compost.

So can you help save the planet?

Yes, of course. If every business takes steps to source their materials wisely, the incremental benefit to our environment could be huge.
Do it now: save the planet one bag at a time!

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