Product Shipping – Environmental Considerations & Customer Satisfaction ships everything through the US Postal Service.  Both UPS and Fedex have better tracking information and more integrated web-based solutions which would make switching to one of those carriers faster and more efficient for our office staff.  Unfortunately, there are 3 big downfalls to both of those options. 

First, both UPS and Fedex are more expensive than the US Postal Service when shipping small items to individuals.  If you’re shipping large freight and/or mostly to business addresses, that is not true.  But for us, the good old USPS is cheaper for more than 95% of our everyday shipping needs – including overnight.

Second, while this may seem odd, USPS is actually faster for standard shipping than either of the other carriers. Priority Mail is a standard mailing option that generally takes 2-3 business days to anywhere in the country.  Faster, cheaper shipping generally makes happier customers, so those are both good points for us.  And despite the jokes often heard about their reputation, we’ve not had a single package “lost in the mail” within the US since we’ve been in business.

Finally, although UPS and Fedex have been “greening” their trucks and delivery methods, the fact is that the US Postal Service visits almost every household in America every day anyway.  I live in a community with 89 homes.  USPS delivers to at least 80 of them every business day, whereas I’ve often seen the UPS and Fedex trucks come into the community to deliver a single package.  I have to believe that a lot more fuel is being wasted on “special trips” to single homes here and there rather than just adding a package to a destination that is already being covered.  (Though in truth, I have no data to back this up – but it seems sensible to me.)

This year we’re trying to ship more items in the cardboard envelops rather than the Tyvek bags whenever possible.  Besides the flat rate cardboard being slightly less expensive to ship, it is easier to reuse and recycle.  We are happy to point out that all of the USPS shipping supplies have achieved the environmental cradle-to-cradle certification for sustainability and health concerns.

Also, don’t worry if your package comes with some packing materials or even bubble wrap.  All of our packing materials (except the recycled tissue paper we wrap undergarments in) are reused from shipments we get in.  We like wrapping purses with metal zippers as well as jewelry in bubble wrap.  Even though we don’t use very much, early on we found we wanted more bubble wrap than we were getting.  Then a local tech company moved their offices and I got a great idea.  After the move we asked them what they were going to do with their packing supplies.  They were reusing boxes, which is good, but they were going to toss out the mounds of bubble wrap and packing materials they had purchased just for the move.  Viola!  We scored enough bubble wrap to last us for years to come and diverted it from becoming a big landfill mess.  We also bring all packing peanuts we get in to a local mailing center for reuse.  We hope you reuse the packing materials you get from us as well.  Most of these things can be reused again and again.
We’re happy to hear suggestions on packing and shipping.  One person suggested we try Freecycle to get reused packing supplies.  We’ve posted want ads, but thus far haven’t had any response.  We’re always looking for new ideas to minimize waste though; so keep the suggestions coming. 

Happy New Year everyone!

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Written By Adrienne