As if dealing with waste at the home wasn’t enough. During past years I have worked in the automotive industry, grocery, and clothing retail. It is insane how much waste can be produced within one workday. I have seen companies pursue innovative ideas with how to become more sustainable when it comes to waste created from used packaging. This is a very important aspect of a business and it should be a priority for everyone in the organization. The first step is being conscious and aware of the fact that many of us throw just about anything in the garbage can.

Japanese automaker, Subaru, started a program where customers and technicians alike could send the packaging back to the manufacturer to be reused. This was started in 2015 by Subaru of Indiana Automotive. They already were at 89% reusable packaging but challenged themselves to increase that percentage to 95% while decreasing by 30% their overall investment in reusable packaging. They accomplished their goal and have reduced their impact on the environment. This is a huge leap forward. I have seen trash cans in the shop full to the brim with packaging made from cardboard, plastic, Styrofoam, and even toxic chemicals. This is why it is important to be aware of what is being thrown away and whether or not it can be recycled.

For 2 years I had the opportunity to work for a sustainable clothing company based out of Santa Barbara, California called Toad & Co. They produce a variety of hybrid clothing that is great not only for hiking but also for going out to dinner with your friends. They put an emphasis on using sustainable materials like organic cotton, Tencel, Modal and recycled polyester among others. They also incorporate their sustainability message in their marketing. They have a strong desire to educate consumers on how much waste is created by the clothing industry each year and what can be done to minimize it. They are always working toward new and innovative ideas to be more sustainable.

One of the ways was by partnering with LimeLoop for reusable packaging for their online orders. The package comes with a return label so that the customer can send the packaging right back so that it can be reused for another order. This reusable shipper is made from durable vinyl that is recycled from billboards. They are inspiring their customers and other companies in the industry to join them on mission toward a more sustainable industry.

There are many ways that companies can pursue sustainability. Whether it is a small thing or something that makes bigger impact, it is still important. Eco-friendly packaging is a great way for companies to do this. I think that it is worth the investment and the consumer will notice these changes and be inspired to purchase more products from that company.


Essay by: Zachary Cunningham
University of Maine at Augusta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stand Up Pouches & Bags