Sustainable Perspective Tag

28 Feb 2017 Sustainability and E-commerce Packaging

e-commerce, sustainable packaging, Salazar Packaging, Sustainability and E-commerce Packaging

The impact e-commerce is having on the environment is a very hot topic and it should be as we all witness the shift from big box/ brick and mortar retail to internet shopping. Highly respected Packaging Digest and Environmental Leader both recently wrote about an excellent white paper published last month by Bob Lilienfeld of Ameripen and Kyla Fisher, founder of Three Peaks Sustainability. (Link below)

Whether you are new to e-commerce and just getting started or even if you have been at it for years, it is a white paper definitely worth reading.

After helping to create and launch hundreds of successful e-commerce boxes we offer the following suggestions from a practical rather than technical perspective:

With growth comes responsibility

We have had the pleasure of watching some of our clients grow from shippers of a few hundred orders per month to tens of thousands. It stands to reason that the more product you ship, the more packaging you use that ultimately ends up in the waste stream. For that reason, we will always suggest to do it right the first time or as early as possible in the design process.

Understandably, brand owners are usually very focused on how their e-commerce packaging is going to look. Concerns often include graphics, colors, textures, sheen, etc. What we usually suggest is backing up to less exciting, but we believe to be equally important packaging purpose/function and structural design.

1.Understand the application

It may seem hard to believe but many of the people who decide they want a custom shipping container really don’t have a firm grip on what they are trying to accomplish or a complete understanding of the packaging requirements. For example, is it designed to be returnable? Also, how fragile the product being shipped is and/or how much it weighs can be critical. Balancing protection and presentation can be a huge challenge, especially if sustainability is important to you and your brand and you want to avoid redundant or over packaging.

2. Know the materials being used

All corrugated and packaging papers are not created equally and can vary greatly in terms of recycled content. Also important is disposal and how easily the material being used can be reused or recycled.

Keep in mind that the material should help you satisfy your sustainability objectives as well as the application requirements, and may also be impacted by the graphic design you have in mind. For example, coatings and laminates may add gloss to a print job but have an adverse effect on the recyclability of the material being used. Conversely, if a great finish is desired, the board specs can play a major role in the final appearance.

3. Seek expert advice

Avoid self-diagnosis of your packaging needs and do not hesitate to ask for the assistance of companies who do this day in and day out. Keep an open mind because your design partner may have something to offer that is better and less expensive than what you originally envisoned.

The person who created your logo for your web site might be an incredibly talented graphic designer but in most cases they lack packaging and structural design experience. Graphic designers rightly are focused on how packaging is going to look. A good structural designer is also focused on how it will ship, how it will store, how it will be assembled, how long it will take to pack and seal, shipping weight, and even the prepress cost such as required cutting dies.

Remember that the easiest and most effective way to reduce your costs and make your packaging as sustainable as possible is to simply use less of it. A good structural designer can prove invaluable in that effort.

To discuss the branding or rebranding of your subscription box or e-commerce packaging, please contact Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 for a no cost, no obligation review of your project.

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01 Sep 2016 Buyers Guide: Branded E-commerce Packaging for Clothing

Mailer boxes AND mailer envelopesThe convenience of buying clothing via the web is obvious since it is essentially a store that is open 24/7. Consumers also love the variety and selection of products available to them, sometimes not available in local retail stores. Add great pricing, in many cases – free shipping, as well as liberal return and exchange policies, and it is no wonder the market is growing by leaps and bounds.

We hear from dozens of sellers of clothing every month and their most common question is – what is the best branded packaging option for me? A mailer box or a mailer envelope? While it is a simple question, the answer can be very complicated, depending on your specific requirements and application.

How to Determine Which Packaging Option is Best For YouCustom branded envelopes and boxes

  1. Quantity? Every branded product has a MOQ or minimum for custom printing and they vary a great deal. For example, the minimum on a poly mailer envelope may be 25,000, for a paper mailer envelope, only a few hundred, and for most boxes, a low 1,000. So to some degree your best option may be determined by how many you are interested in purchasing at one time.
  1. Is your packaging utilitarian or presentation? If your only concern is a shipping container to get the product from point A to point B safely without damage, then almost anything will work. However, if you believe like most of our customers do, E-commerce packaging is all about first impressions and the customer experience begins with the shipping container. I always use the example of a seller of organic cotton baby clothes should NOT ship the product in a plastic, poly mailer envelope.
  1. What is the price point of your product? Experience tells us the expectations of a customer purchasing a twenty dollar tee shirt is obviously different compared to a $200 custom tailored dress shirt. In addition, some materials are more likely to shift and wrinkle in shipment.
  1. What does your graphic design look like? To some degree, the artwork determines the best printing process and the printing process determines the substrate, which ultimately determines the MOQ. So if you are looking for a five-color complex design, a direct print corrugated container is probably not the best choice. As a rule we will usually suggest that your graphics be simple, eye catching, and memorable. Remember, the recipient already knows who you are and has decided to buy from you. Your packaging is a great opportunity to reinforce your brand but it is not a brochure and no one is likely to take the time to “read” or study your packaging.
  1. How Much Flexibility Do You Require? 

In many cases envelopes are a better choice because your order sizes vary a great deal. Unfortunately box sizes are not adjustable, but many envelopes are designed to expand and accommodate a larger product or a larger order.

How about Mailer Boxes and Mailer Envelopes?

It is not always an either/or decision and many of our customers use both envelopes and boxes. They have determined that mailer envelopes work best at a lower cost for smaller orders, die cut corrugated mailers for mid-size orders, and possibly even RSC style shipping boxes for bulk or wholesale orders. We can custom print any of those products so your brand is consistent and distinctive.

We provide a tremendous amount of information and are probably one of the most transparent companies in the packaging industry. However, all of the blog posts and reference materials we make available cannot replace a five minute conversation with one of our branded packaging advisors. Please feel free to contact Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700 for a no cost, no obligation application review.

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04 Aug 2015 Skosh Box – Delivering the WOW Factor

one color on white, in and outMost of the people who contact us are not interested in purchasing shipping boxes, they are in search of unique marketing tools that connect them to their customer. In other words, they want their subscription or e-commerce boxes to stand out and create a memorable, positive experience. Whether they refer to it as increasing the WOW factor or enhancing the customer experience, the common goal is the same – to reinforce and promote the brand.

Economics, Graphic Design or Color?

Some people think they have to choose between these options because they do not realize that the cost difference between a basic one color on Kraft box and one that explodes with color is minimal. As discussed in detail in the “related post” link below, one of the greatest bargains in corrugated packaging is the second color.

There is very littlel difference in plate cost for less than 25% ink coverage compared to a flood coat design and there is virtually no difference in the box cost. Bright colors do not cost more than pastels so essentially – anything is possible. Great subscription box and not shy about color!

9-6-2 mailer box with printing inside and outOne of our most daring customers when it comes to color and design are our good friends at Skoshbox. They could pack their delicious treats from Japan in a brown box that would simply not be them. See the photos in this post and be amazed at their creativity and the boldness of the colors they select and how they use them, inside AND outside!

Our congratulations to Skoshbox for maximizing the benefit of custom printing their shipping containers!

We will gladly review your concept or design and help you determine how to achieve that maximum WOW factor and the minimum cost. Please contact us at Salazar Packaging or call us at 630-551-1700.

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17 Dec 2013 Sustainable Packaging Outlook for 2014

2014At a recent green conference where I served on a panel of green packaging “experts” the inevitable question was asked – is green dead? More specifically, the person asking was questioning the importance of green packaging for business.

I responded the way I always do, green is not dead, it has however, evolved and matured. Not matured the way a market matures and becomes saturated or consumed to capacity. I wish that was the case, but matured the way we grow up beyond idealistic, often youthful perspectives and impatient expectations, to appreciate a broader and longer term objective. Perhaps looking at sustainability with more brain and logic, rather than heart and emotion? Maybe with less “cause” and more “because” it simply makes sense.

Green Packaging Street “Cred”

We have been selling green products to green minded customers for almost seven years. Our efforts have helped us enjoy relationships with some of the oldest and largest green companies, as well as with some of the newest and smallest. We have been the subject of countless articles, included in several books and even been recognized by our US Congress for our work. Last week we were even gratefully featured in an article in  (fill in search box with SALAZAR for a peek at the article). I share these facts not to brag, but to confirm that we have been doing this for a while and enjoyed some measure of success in spite of the ups and downs of an ever changing green market.

Advice From the Trenches

What we share with anyone who asks is that today if the best or only feature of your product and service is the fact that it is green, you will probably have a difficult time making the transition away from a green market that in the past has sometimes been mistakenly focused on guilt, shame or solely green motives, “Save the earth one BLANK at a time!”

The driving forces today are about time tested features including quality, service, and yes, price. The internet we all love has managed to make everything a commodity, so offering 100% organic baby clothes or 100% soy candles is not enough. Let’s face it, is there anything that is a greater commodity than a simple corrugated shipping box which is one of our core products? Creating that “image of difference” between us the multitudes on the internet doing something similar to what we do is the challenge. Delivering on that promise is imperative in order to secure that most important repeat customer.

What to Expect in 2014

Green versus Cost – The economy is neither as good as some try to convince us or as bad as others would like us to believe. However, until this age of uncertainty passes, if ever, the green benefits of every product will continue to be compared to the product’s cost benefits by careful consumers. It has to save money for the buyer even if it is a long payback. Do not expect anyone to pay a premium for green unless they see a bottom line benefit that goes well beyond the good feeling of doing good.

Green is a “Brand” too! – Branding has gone far beyond an easily recognized logo or graphics. It communicates “who we are” and “who” most of our customers are, is green.

Recycled Content Products – Utilizing products that can be EASILY recycled will continue being in demand and along with that, products that have a high recycled content. Companies will continue to be more responsible creating a market for the recycled content they are encouraging others to generate.

Reusable Packaging – Many companies who wanted to utilize reusable containers, simply could not afford the sizable, initial investment that is often necessary. Now with a slightly better economic outlook, I believe some of those interested companies will commit and save a lot of money in the long run.

“Back to Basics” – There will always be interest (and there should be) in innovative new products and materials. Recent history has taught us that many of those innovations are not affordable, not easily manufactured in large scale, or simply not practical. I expect 2014 to be a year when most will focus on REDUCTION as they continue to develop and experiment with thinner materials and designs that dramatically reduce the amount of packaging being used.

Perhaps there are no new and exciting revelations in the above information but I think time will prove this to be a good course for all of us to follow. It is indeed an exciting time to be selling green products to a green market because logic has overcome emotion and people are making, positive, long term changes in the way they operate their homes and businesses. That can’t be bad, can it?

We hope you have a wonderful and profitable 2014!

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29 Apr 2013 Salazar Packaging and Globe Guard Products co-sponsor Chicago LOHAS Event

LOHAS is a terrific organization and an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a market segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice.

LOHAS 2013

Last year, I was fortunate to serve on a panel discussion on packaging at the LOHAS annual conference in Denver, Colorado where they are based. There I was able to meet and get to know the executive director, Ted Ning, and we are thrilled to see him bring the LOHAS message to our hometown of Chicago.

Network with Other Green Minded People and Companies

The gathering with cocktails will be held on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (CDT) at the Metropolitan Group that is at 35 E Wacker Place, in Chicago. You can see more information at this link and even reserve your ticket there.

To learn more about LOHAS, please visit their web site at I think you will find your time well spent at this rare Midwest opportunity to meet people who share your same interests and passions.

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02 Apr 2013 Sustainable Packaging – “Less is More” at the International Housewares Show

North Hall of 2013 Housewares Show

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure and privilege of working at the “Experts Booth” at the International Housewares Show where I fielded questions from visitors and exhibitors regarding ecofriendly packaging options.

Even though I am sorry to report that overall the interest in sustainable packaging was probably not quite as widespread as in previous years; I was very pleased to see the number of very smart companies who continue moving forward in a determined, greener direction. They understand how sustainability in general and more specifically, sustainable packaging is a money maker, not a profit taker, and it was most apparent in a new trend I refer to as the minimalist green packaging movement.

Paperboard display sleeveIn the Three R’s of Sustainability, Reduce is the key to immediate lower costs   

While interest in recycling remains as strong as ever and reuse seems as elusive and misunderstood as it has ever been, packaging material reduction is going strong and was obvious everywhere at the show. Ironically, in many cases it was probably overlooked because the positive difference between current and previous packaging was NOT what was on display but, rather what was missing.

Consumers want less packaging because their preference is to not have to discard or recycle the packaging that enters their home. They also want to see the product they are considering buying, rather than an illustration or photo of it. Even from a cleanliness or security perspective, over packaging makes little sense because after all who takes home any type of kitchen accessory and does NOT wash it before use?

Green graphics on paperboard hang cardMinimalist Packaging is the Answer

The above positive objectives open the door to a wide variety of cost reducing packaging options including carded packaging, sleeves, vertical or horizontal half trays and even hang tabs. Shrink film and plastic bagging film seemed more popular than in the past because in many cases they allow a dramatic reduction of paperboard or corrugated material per package while providing a unique combination of benefits that include visibility, security and overall waste reduction by weight and volume.

Paperboard hang cards with sleeveOf course, these greener, minimalist designs are twice as effective if they are constructed on uncoated board with a high (ideally 100%) recycled content. Fortunately for all of us, these more earth friendly materials are much more readily available and affordable compared to just a few years ago.

Check out the photos included in this post and let us know if you have any questions.  There are many ways of accomplishing your financial and green objectives and these are just a few of them. Contact Salazar Packaging for a no cost, confidential review of your packaging needs.Die cut corrugated display card with film

Also, to visit the Housewares site and read a post about our efforts to help the industry “green up” please click here:

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14 Mar 2012 Good Domestic Solutions for “Bad” Imported Packaging

International packagingAt the recent International Housewares Show, I had several conversations with a number of people who wanted to talk about the “bad” packaging they are getting from their foreign suppliers. Well over 90% of all house ware products we all buy and use are manufactured and packaged overseas, which typically results in substantial savings for the importing USA company. However, it can also lead to major headaches and unexpected costs when the packaging that is also being imported does not satisfy varying domestic requirements. (more…)

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17 Nov 2011 Bartering Organizations – The Ugly Side of Sustainability

Money Down the DrainSustainability, when defined as something that by design reproduces itself indefinitely and never ends, is a worthy objective in almost any facet of life or business. However, I have found absolutely nothing that lives on forever the way a barter dollar does. Regardless of what you are told, this gross and corrupt example of sustainability is not for the benefit of the buyer or seller but for the organization sponsoring the program. I can’t say bartering is not good for anyone, but I can tell you how awful it was for us. (more…)

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21 Oct 2011 Sustainable Packaging Dilemma – When Bad Packaging Gets Worse

Box in need of helpI’ll put it bluntly but politely – most secondary packaging (boxes, tape, etc.) we receive from overseas is not very good. People have shared countless stories with us about boxes that smell funny, are weak, thinner than expected, don’t stack well, don’t hold up in shipment, etc. And it matters little whether the packaging originates in China, India or almost any place else on the globe.

Domestically produced boxes, even boxes like our 100% recycled content Globe Guard® boxes, are better and stronger than the vast majority of corrugated boxes that are used to ship the imported products we all purchase. It is widely accepted that when the US buyer negotiates a lower price with a foreign manufacturer, one of the areas that is most easily cheapened is the packaging used for shipping it here. (more…)

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23 Aug 2011 Mark Langan’s Corrugated Art – The Ultimate in “Upcycling”

Mark Langan SalutationUnless this is the first time you have visited our blog, you already know we are avid proponents of reusing and recycling packaging. That is especially true of our corrugated products that offer the most in recycled content, because no one has figured out how to improve on 100%.

The one area of sustainability that we have yet to master is that of “upcycling,” which is recycling a product and making it even more valuable than it originally was. I sincerely appreciate and respect people who are able to take empty juice pouches and turn them into fashion handbags or use empty wine bottles to create beautiful table lamps out of what might otherwise end up in a landfill. However, Mark Langan, with a lot of talent and time, is able to take corrugated board and turn it into beautiful works of art. (more…)

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