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Unsustainable Unboxing - The Environmental Packaging Debate

Posted by V. A. Bates Kassatly on

We spend a lot of time worrying about our packaging and delivery, trying to find the perfect metric between sustainability, cost - both direct and postage - and experience.




When you spend a hefty chunk of your hard earned money on something, receiving it stuffed into a recycled poly bag detracts from the experience. By contrast, unboxing a plain cardboard outer to reveal a hand-painted inner package, layered with fragranced tissue paper and accompanied by a ribbon tied folder containing your receipt, return labels, a handwritten note from the founder and who knows what else, raises the entire experience to a whole other, vastly superior level. That at least, is what has become accepted as the norm in luxury retail. Youtubers apart however, for most of us that experience is over in a minute, so does it really matter?




The more elaborate the packaging, the more expensive it is to purchase. The larger and heavier the package is as a result, the more expensive it is to send. Either directly, or indirectly, this cost is going to be paid by the customer. So just how much is that enhanced experience worth?




All packaging beyond the minimum required to protect and transport the goods is wasted resources. Some brands make cute suggestions for repurposing, but how many times have you actually used that box as a sock organizer, and how many times have you simply thrown it away? And yes, paper and card can be recycled but depending where you throw them away, they may or may not be. We ship globally and in many places recycling simply doesn't exist, so is it wise to spend the customer’s money on special recyclable packaging that is going to end up in landfill anyway?


The topic is certainly very vexed - US menswear brand Noah NYC have put a lot of thought into the question. You can read their candid assessment of the problem here

They recently addressed the issue in a Hypebeast interviewand you can check out some of the comments below, for a sense of how some consumers see the conundrum:


"Can't believe they are trying to justify this shit as sustainable approach."


"If they have to explain every single bit, it means they are just trying to find a way to justify their mistakes."


"Sustainability? That ain't gonna happen with those expansive prices. Ok?!!"


Whattttt? Does the guy who needs to pay more attention to his spelling even know what sustainable means?


As for us, we use metallic silver, polyethylene mailers, manufactured in the Netherlands to stringent EU standards, and we keep inserts to a minimum. We think this makes the delivery a little bit special without being excessive or expensive. We are still thinking of using cardboard boxes, as some shipping companies will not accept envelope packages and it's true, clothes do arrive looking less crushed when mailed in a box.


It's all a tug of war between the various costs - not to mention the speed and reliability of the shipping service - we're still working on it but what do you think? Do you prefer boxes, or mailers, or do you just want whatever is cheapest? Let us know...



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