Our world is shifting towards an eco-friendly lifestyle, and sustainability is the key to keeping the earth alive. However, there are times where it seems like we have to choose between keeping the environment clean, and keeping our businesses and lifestyles continuous.

Plastic and paper packaging may seem like the most convenient options, but at the cost of the environment. At the same time, sustainable packaging may be the better, more eco-friendly alternative, but they can be costly and drive up expenses in your business.

Sustainable doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some packaging options you can utilize for your business or personal lifestyle that are eco-friendly and inexpensive. Instead of purchasing trendy eco-packaging that may not be eco-friendly after all, take a look at these tips for a better understanding of true environmentally sound packaging options.

1.   Aluminum Water Bottles

Aluminum is one of the most sustainable resources on earth, with more than 70% of all aluminum ever mined still in use today after generations of recycling and repurposing. That aluminum foil that you use in the kitchen can be cleaned, recycled, and remoulded into other items like cans and bottles over and over again.

Aluminum water bottles are seeking to replace the use of plastic water bottles; the latter of which make up the majority of waste in the landfill, as well as the microplastics found in the oceans. Recycled aluminum only uses 5% of the energy needed to produce bottles from mined aluminum, but still keeps the same purity and cleanliness as the raw material.

For more information on aluminum water bottles and their sustainability, view My Own Water official website to see infographics and details.

2.   Furoshiki Wrapping

Furoshiki is a Japanese traditional cloth used for wrapping gifts and products in a sustainable and eye-catching way. The increase of interest in Furoshiki wrapping peaked with the guide video from Marie Kondo, called “The Art of Japanese Gift-wrapping.”

Besides being aesthetically pleasing, Furoshiki gift-wrapping is a sustainable way to dress up items ready for gifting as the cloth can be used over and over again in a multitude of ways. The furoshiki can be used to wrap another gift item, can be used as general cloth, or tied up into a bag to carry items from place to place. The latter being the original use for the furoshiki.

3.   Sugarcane Food Boxes

You’ve probably heard or even eaten out of a sugarcane food container. It’s those cardboard box-like food containers that have a unique texture due to their compressed material. The containers are made by processing the pulp from the sugarcane plant, leftover from sugar extraction.

The result is a biodegradable material that is compostable, and recyclable as paper when clean. It is microwavable, washable, and can even be placed in the oven at moderate temperatures. After usage, these sugarcane food containers biodegrade in 90 days, making it a perfect alternative to plastic and styrofoam packaging.

4.   Minimalist Printing

Sometimes, the best way to live sustainably through packaging is to keep a minimalistic aesthetic. Minimalist printing is the term used for the ink-saving practice of using the least amount of printer ink with the least amount of colours when printing your logo on packaging.

By keeping printer ink to a minimum, printers save up on ink consumption, energy, and space. Minimalist packaging is also better for the environment, as they typically don’t use artificial dyes or bleaches to achieve multi-coloured assets.

5.   Eat your packaging

Edible packaging, whether edible for human consumption or for wildlife during composting, is seen as an eco-friendly alternative to cardboard and paper packaging that still creates waste products and burns fossil fuels in production.

Edible packaging can come in the forms of edible cutlery, like spoons made from barley wheat that can be eaten after using, or cup holders made from leftover hops pulp after making beer that animals can safely eat afterwards. Both ideas have been on the market for years, continuously expanding their reach.

6.   Dried Leaf Baskets

Dried leaves from plants such as banana trees and coconut trees make for terrific food packaging when made into baskets. Not only do these baskets create a natural aesthetic, they are easily biodegradable, and can hold a considerable weight despite the organic nature of its material. Dried leaves have been used for centuries to create baskets and for good reason.

Leaves from plants, when dried, are sturdy and efficient carriers for dry goods, and are water-resistant especially when applied with a waxy substance to keep the basket waterproof longer. Alternatively, fresh leaves can be used in place of plastic wrap in grocery produce, keeping the sustainability of leaves in trend.