This holiday season, we're offering free gift wrapping for our customers. Normally, we try to offer the most minimal packaging possible. The gift wrapping that we're offering is a light, mindful touch to remind you and your loved ones that we appreciate you! But we wanted to let you know a little about how we've gone about selecting our packaging and why we do it this way. 

First, the why. E-commerce is a fast growing sector, and with it, our addiction to and dependence on plastic and packaging is growing as well.  As reported in Fast Company, about 165 billion packages are shipped in the US each year, with the cardboard used roughly equating to more than 1 billion trees. Most cardboard producers do not use 100% recycled content, and they claim that recycled boxes are not "strong enough" (so we've been told.) The average box is “dropped 17 times”,according to ANAMA Package and Container Testing owner, Anton Cotaj. So that’s why you can receive a small package inside a relatively large box filled with “air-bags”. It means that the retailer is literally “shipping air”, as the director of packaging program at Rutgers University, Hae Chang Gea, puts it. (Think: increased volume means increased carbon footprint.) 

Those plastic bags that come around most e-commerce orders that you buy are actually required by almost every warehouse. The plastic bags make orders about twice as voluminous, (again, remember bigger volume means bigger carbon footprint since most of these products will be shipped by air) So not only is basically everything entering the United states coming in a plastic bag (even if you buy it from a retailer and didn't actually see the plastic bag yourself.)

But the footprint of adding that plastic is much more than the plastic itself. Our plastic problem is staggering. The largest market for plastics today is for packaging materials. That trash now accounts for nearly half of all plastic waste generated globally; most of it never gets recycled or incinerated.

 

Our plastic problem

SOURCE: JASON TREAT AND RYAN WILLIAMS, NGM STAFF
ROLAND GEYER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA

At tonlé, we do things differently.

First of all, the only plastic we use in our shipping is one single sheet that is wrapped around a large box of roughly 100 products at a time to protect them on their journey from Cambodia to our US office. In order to avoid those ubiquitous plastic bags on Every. Single. Garment, we have to ship everything ourselves, because most warehouses require everything to be in a poly bag. So each packaged is carefully wrapped and packaged for you with a handmade note from our team in San Francisco. 

Picture of the tonle team in San Francisco

Secondly, we've looked for packaging suppliers with the best possible practices, and we use shipping mailers that reduce bulk (lower carbon footprint) for the lightest possible shipping option. These, along with the recycled tissue paper that we use for gift wrapping, come from Ecoenclose. Our printed materials are all done by Greener printer, an independent business based in the Bay Area that uses the highest green standards for ink, paper, and energy usage. Each gift wrapped package also comes with a handwritten note on a handmade piece of paper, which is made by our team in Cambodia from the last scraps of our production, as part of our zero-waste commitment. 

Photo of tonlé packaging

We're looking into reusable packaging options starting in 2019 - that can be sent back to us and re-used many times. But we'd love to hear from you - would you take the extra step to return them to us? We would provide return labels. Your help is the critical step in making that possible! Let us know in the comments. 

From how it's made, to how it's packaged, to how it's worn - every step makes a difference. Thanks again for all you do to support a different type of fashion industry. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 28, 2018 by Rachel Faller

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