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Is shifting to eco-friendly packaging a cost issue or a mindset change problem?

eco-friendly-packaging

In this day and age, we keep reading and hearing about sustainable living, eco-friendly products, biodegradable packaging, recyclable packaging, carbon footprint, etc. There is definitely an information overload on this theme, but let us first ask – Why do you think we are bombarded with such information?

Sustainable Living Is the Need of the Hour

Globally, there has been a drastic shift in the environmental conditions which is leading to unnaturally high incidents of natural catastrophes such as disastrous cyclones, floods and landslides that we keep witnessing on our TV screens helplessly. Planet Earth is on the brink of destruction and if we are still not mindful in our way of living and daily practices, we will be staring at a very bleak future, where the environment would be irreversibly damaged and there will be nothing much we can do about it at that point in time.

Don’t get us wrong, there is growing awareness about sustainable living and use of eco-friendly products. Brands, consumers, and businesses have started noticing, and understanding the need for change- the need to be more conscious in our day to day lives. 

Packaging, and its significance is one critical aspect of sustainable living. Sensing the urgency in the need to conserve the planet and prevent further damage caused due to the use of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials, several startups and even established companies have ventured into eco-friendly packaging production, EcoCushion Paper, being one such startup which deals with eco-friendly bubble wrap packaging and void fillers.

These eco-friendly packaging companies offer a range of packaging solutions, ranging from packaging material produced from recyclable paper to packaging material manufactured from plant-based fibres.

Has there been a significant shift to sustainable living?

Now we know that there is a lot of awareness about sustainable living and there are a variety of eco-friendly products and packaging available in the market. However, have all businesses and individual consumers shifted to the use of eco-friendly products and packaging? The answer is an obvious no.

What stops individuals and businesses to make the shift to eco-friendly packaging?

The reasons could be varied, but the two main reasons one could think of are:

1. Cost factor:

It’s a general assumption that eco-friendly products and packaging are expensive, which isn’t always the case. In general, people tend to go for the cheaper option when given a choice. In the case of our products for instance, we have repeatedly demonstrated to our customers that the per meter cost of bubble wraps compares to the per meter cost of EcoCushion Paper bubble wraps, however most customers carry an inherent apprehension that eco-friendly offerings are bound to carry hidden costs as compared to plastic materials. At that juncture, the consumer may not realize that there is some environmental cost incurred due to the use of such products, unless he is conditioned to think on those lines. 

Point of View: However, as we have observed in our own start-up, when an increasing number of people start using eco-friendly packaging, more companies would come forward to manufacture it seeing the demand and the market price would ultimately reduce due to increased competition. Furthermore, due to multiple plastic ban laws introduced nationally over the last couple of years, lower micron plastics have been banned, and that has caused an increase in the price of bubble wraps. Also, in scenarios where the initial cost may be higher, the economic benefits of using sustainable packaging outweigh the initial costs. Most of the sustainable packaging materials are lightweight and less bulky, for instance honeycomb wrap takes 80% lesser storage space than bubble roll, thereby reducing shipping and storage costs significantly. The individual consumers and businesses must be educated in these aspects.

2. Reluctance in Adaptability to Change (problem in changing one’s mindset): Awareness

Knowledge about sustainability concepts and use of eco-friendly products is steadily picking up – thanks to awareness campaigns on social media and collective consciousness substantiated by small and medium entrepreneurs and also the easy availability of such products online.

But, does this awareness actually convert into buying the product is a point that needs to be pondered. Not everyone who is aware or excited about sustainable products and packaging may actually purchase these eco-friendly products and packaging. This could be due to the mental conditioning that plastic materials and bubble wraps are convenient to use, hassle free and more durable, purely because it’s more familiar to us. There needs to be a shift in this mindset. To induce a break in this kind of mindset, it is imperative for businesses involved in sustainable products manufacturing to highlight the performance ability of these products, which is what we at EcoCushion Paper attempt to do with our customers across the board. 

Research by the University of Leeds and the University of East Anglia (UEA) has revealed that people are unwilling or reluctant to buy environmentally-friendly products because of their doubts regarding their performance ability and hence most consumers perceive them as less effective. Despite these green products being less harmful to the planet and health, companies often find it a tough task to sell them.

At the end, irrespective of the cost factor or the extent of adaptability to change, the realization that “There is no Planet B” will definitely bring about a paradigm shift in the consumers’ mindset and help in the seamless switching from plastic and  non-biodegradable products to earth-friendly biodegradable and compostable products.“The Earth Loves You, Love the Earth Back” is all we can preach. The rest is in your hands.

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