This post was sponsored by noissue. All thoughts and editorial direction my own.

Sustainability, ethics and transparency have had somewhat of a heyday in 2019. While not at the mainstream level of consciousness that I’d like them to be, awareness is definitely higher than ever before, and people are increasingly starting to seek out ethical alternatives when looking to make a purchase.

But, once we start to get our heads around ways that we can identify more sustainable options, there’s another area that’s important to consider too: packaging.

Packaging is often one of the more complicated areas when it comes to consuming consciously. Sustainable items often can’t be found on the high street, leading to online shopping, leading to packaging and postage. This means that packaging inevitably becomes an important consideration when trying to operate in more conscious ways, as it’s an unavoidable part of the business model.

There are some main offenders that come to mind when we talk about unsustainable or excessively wasteful packaging. Big sellers have been rightly met with criticism for using non-recyclable plastics as well as over-packaging, which is incredibly common in the online retail space. It can be complex, as sellers don’t want items to arrive damaged, but there has to be a balance between protection and ludicrous levels of unnecessary waste.

The good news is that there are sustainable packaging options out there. Natural, renewable and responsible options like FSC-certified acid-free paper, non-toxic dyes that aren’t petroleum-based, compostable alternatives, and utilising leftover materials (Gung Ho does this for their perfume) are among some great alternative options if businesses decide to do the research.

And ultimately, it is the business owners that must do the researching. These days most people would prefer less plastic, so this should be a given. And if a business says it’s sustainable there’s also naturally an assumption that packaging is taken into consideration before that claim is made. Sustainability needs to be holistic, and packaging is integral to this.

But for small businesses, it can also be difficult. Starting up means a lot of upfront costs, leaving packaging low on the priority list. Plus many manufacturers don’t cater to smaller businesses, instead only offering large order quantities at sky-high prices. Finding custom, sustainable and small scale options is a tricky trio, compared to the cheap convenience of plastic, which is easy to source.

Plus, plastic is versatile. Packaging is to keep products safe, but it also has to make distribution efficient and communicate a brand’s identity. If not part of a cohesive aesthetic, packaging can be more of a hindrance than a help for the price tag. Any replacements need to be more than just plastic-free. Like any sustainable product, they need to appeal on their own, not just because they’re ethical.

So if you’re a small business owner who wants to have minimal impact, what can you do?

That’s where noissue come in.

Who are noissue

Founded in 2017, noissue is an online platform for designing and creating custom, high-quality sustainable packaging for businesses and brands. It was formed out of disappointment in the current state of the packaging industry that includes high minimums, long wait times, and a serious lack of transparency.

Instead, noissue offer simple customised packaging options. They deliver worldwide in three weeks or less (for free) and have low minimum order quantities to suit businesses of varying sizes. They want to enable small business owners to brand their packaging without having to worry about huge costs or sacrificing aesthetics for sustainability. They’re also on a mission to prove that you can package items in responsible and conscious ways.

Their core beliefs can be summarised as:

  • Packaging should be sustainable
  • Designing packaging should be easy
  • Custom packaging should be accessible for any size of business

Ultimately, noissue want to help every business be the best, and most conscious, it can be. The name stems from their commitment to remove unnecessary issues that can arise with custom production, as they work to make life easy so business owners can focus on their work.

What they offer

Tissue: You can design your tissue paper in real-time with noissue’s easy-to-use website, either uploading your own design or using one of their templates. All tissue is acid-free and FSC certified, while all inks are soy-based. Prices start at £95 for 250 sheets.

Stickers: Stickers are also printed on FSC certified, acid-free paper with soy-based inks, and are also fully customisable. Prices start at £65 for 250 stickers.

Tape: noissue’s tape is water-activated, meaning that the surface isn’t coated in wax (which isn’t biodegradable) to prevent sticking, and is made from FSC certified 100% recycled content. And, again, it’s totally customisable. Prices start at £100 for 5 rolls (250m of tape total).

Mailers: In my opinion, this is the most exciting option that noissue offer. noissue’s mailers are compostable at home and commercially, making them a brilliant alternative to the plastic polybags that plague so many sustainable businesses. Made from a combination of corn-based biopolymers (aka corn starch), they take about 6 months to compost whilst also being waterproof, durable, tear-resistant and stretchy. They’re certified by all three industry certifiers: TUV Austria, BPI and Dincerto, meeting American, European, International and Australian standards, including certifications for domestic home compost. To gain these certifications, the product must break down within 90 days in commercial compost and 180 days in domestic compost conditions, including worm farm compost. After degradation, they must leave no harmful residues behind. So they come fully approved! Prices start at £85 for 100.

Communication is key

Beyond sustainable packaging, it’s also vital that businesses help consumers understand what to do with packaging when an item reaches them. If this isn’t explained properly packaging can end up in the wrong waste stream, causing contamination. And if sustainable packaging isn’t properly disposed of, we haven’t actually solved the problem at all.

Beyond the simple recycling symbol, 70% of consumers want more information on their packaging. Ensuring packaging is designed to also communicate how and why it should be disposed of responsibly (noissue’s mailers are a perfect example of this) is key in order to further spread awareness of sustainable packaging options and to ensure we keep waste streams uncontaminated.

If you want to avoid recycling, learn how to give packaging a second life using Packshare here

Overall, the message of noissue is simple: better options do exist when it comes to packaging. Options that are both accessible, functional and well designed. While sustainability is a journey and there are always ways to improve, noissue makes it a whole lot easier to ensure that businesses can be ethical every step of the way, from creation to consumer, while still looking great. What more could you ask for?

To learn more about noissue, check them out here