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Our search for sustainable packaging

/ Words: Melanie van Berkel

/ Category: Sustainability

/ Published: January 2022

Our search for sustainable packaging

Cardboard boxes, recycled plastic bags or paper envelopes – as a fashion label we can’t sell our products without using packaging for sending and receiving items. Nevertheless, it isn’t always easy to find packaging that doesn’t harm the environment and doesn’t waste resources. Our journey to find sustainable packaging was a bumpy ride. We’ve made some mistakes, but we’ve scrambled up and continued our search for finding the perfect packaging in a sea full of (mostly not so sustainable) packaging. Sophie will tell us more about our journey to a more sustainable shipping process, including all of our tough learned lessons.

Sophie, can you tell us something about yourself? What is your job at Teym?

“At Teym I’m Online Marketeer and Sustainability Expert, this means I create content for Teym’s social media channels and I think about news ways to make Teym more sustainable.”

Let’s start at the beginning: how did you start finding and buying the right packaging?

“We started with a cardboard box for our parkas and recycled plastic bags for our smaller items. After that, we realized we could have an impact with our packaging as well and started our quest to make our packaging more sustainable. We figured that our customers ,who are very conscious, would rather receive cardboard boxes than our plastic bags. We kept growing as well, which made it possible to order custom sized packaging.”

What does the packaging look like now and what do you do to make the shipping process more sustainable?

“Because we started to sell more, we could switch to producing custom sized boxes. This way, we don’t have to use bubble wrap and the boxes won’t use up much space during shipping. Did you know that the local carriers mostly transport air? 

We also use recycled materials as much as possible; our polybags – used by our factories to wrap our products – are made of recycled plastic for example. We are currently looking for biodegradable options for our polybags as well.

We also consider the weight and thickness of the cardboard in order to make a sustainable yet strong box. 

 

Another important part of looking for ways to make our shipping process more sustainable is searching for ways to lower our return rate. What are ways to avoid returns and how can we stimulate people to reuse their packaging? Or can we reuse the boxes in which we receive our returns? We strongly believe that a nice packed item will be returned less quickly than a package that has no soul.”

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Did something go wrong sometimes?

“We’ve tried several different things when it comes to packaging and not all of our choices turned out well. Maxime once ordered silver plastic packaging that wasn’t made of recycled materials, but looked really really well. We got several questions about that, while we first thought: ‘we’ve found really good-looking envelopes.’ It made us rethink our decision, which obviously didn’t match our sustainability goals. It’s good to see that our community keeps us sharp.

For us it’s still important that the order puts a smile on the customer’s face. We want to deliver a beautifully packed order, so the wearer will treat our products with great care. However, we’ll always keep sustainability at the back of our mind.”

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Was there a moment when you thought, this isn’t going to work? We can’t find what we’re looking for.

“Yes, the difficulty of operating as a sustainable business is that sometimes the solution you’re looking for doesn’t exist yet. Most companies have a couple of packaging options between which you can choose, but if you say: ‘I want recycled plastic and in this kind of box’, they often tend to say: ‘we don’t do that’.

It’s also an industry that needs a wake-up call. For most companies, and a lot of customers, it’s enough when they say: ‘this material is partly recycled’, but I think we have to rethink the whole system. A circular packaging system where we don’t waste resources.”

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned during your search for sustainable packaging?

“We’ve learned that we always have to stick to our own values. For us, this means producing less and making products last. An envelope or cardboard box is only sustainable to a certain extent, because it’s made to throw away after use. We have to keep thinking about the impact of our choices. This means choosing recycled packaging which is strong enough to survive the journey and matches with the products we sell. We want to deliver a good-looking package, so the customer can reuse it and there’ll be less waste.”

What is your goal when it comes to sustainable packaging?

“Right now, we’re busy developing recycled paper envelopes which are slightly thinner than the ones we’re currently using. This way we use less materials. It also is easier to reuse and doesn’t take a lot of space at a recycling point. This seems the most sustainable option for now.

You could say that our ultimate goal is that disposable packaging doesn’t exist anymore. It would be nice if there would be a global shipping system for several brands. If every brand uses the same reusable box, we will avoid a lot of waste. If we could apply for something like this, that would be an interesting option for us.

Or if you could add an option to your website where you can send your box back to the company, so they can reuse it. This is, of course, not possible for Teym at the moment, but it might work in the future.”

Want to discover more about our sustainability goals? Visit our sustainability page.