Sustainable Business; Makers 2023

sustainable ethical makers

This is the last in my series on Sustainable Business. Of course if I find more info for other sectors I’ll draft a new one, but for now I’m done with this segment. To date I’ve written on

Please share these articles with businesses that you think might be receptive to making more sustainable changes. It’s only by supporting businesses that share our values and nudging others that we’ll create the world we want. (Of course political pressure matters too but that’s a different article)

Nothing mentioned in this article has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your sources to remain independent then please;
share this article, or
buy me a coffee on Ko-fi, or
make a one-time donation via Paypal

Branded Product Packaging

  • Impacked Packaging is the largest primary packaging marketplace on the planet.
  • Flexible compostable packaging by Tipa
  • Compostable sealable pouches by Sirane or Tishwish
  • You can get compostable pouches with compostable valves from Grounded Packaging
  • Kotkamills in Finland offer some sustainable product and food packaging options.
  • Paperwise in the Netherlands sell branded office supplies and packaging.
  • Papkot in France offers fully recyclable or fully compostable packaging options that performs like plastic
  • The Print Factory in the midlands is a design and print company focused on sustainability, including recycled paper, compostable tape and plant based inks.
  • Limerick based JJ O’Toole offers biodegradable packaging options.
  • Priory Press Packaging in Co Down offer branded biodegradable packaging.
  • Kerr Graphics in Belfast offer branded biodegradable and compostable labels.
  • The Tiny Box Company in the UK offer recycled jewellery boxes, recycled bags and acid-free tissue paper.
  • SR mailing in the UK supplies recycled plastic and recycled cardboard packaging.
  • No issue offer bespoke paper stickers and FSC certified tissue paper printed with soy-ink. They’re in the UK.
  • Hatch Print in the UK can print onto seeded paper.
  • If you want to make an informed choice about packaging options then the Irish company Clear Stream Solutions have a calculation tool, called PEAT, that can compare the environmental footprint of various options.
  • One simple way to promote your business is to list your packaging policy on your website and apply to join the website Slash Packaging

Some of the companies listed above were sourced from the very helpful webpage of Irish chocolate maker Exploding Tree

If you’re in the clothing industry you may find this article on packaging options for clothing useful. It’s American focused but still some interesting insights.

Delivery Packaging 

  • Karo Pack make cardboard filled reusable packing pillows from old cardboard boxes. Based in Germany.
  • Woolcool offer insulated packing material for temperature sensitive goods made from sheeps wool. Based in the UK.
  • Estonia company Woola have just started production of a wool alternative to bubblewrap.
  • Sweetair is a brand of air filled pillows to protect fragile goods in transit. Based in the UK.
  • Pluumo make packing material with feathers not suitable for down. Based in the UK.
  • Cardboard Converters sell cardboard shredders that allow you to reuse cardboard boxes as packing material. They have an office in Ireland.
  • Also Cardboard Cloud is an Irish company looking to match people with cardboard with others who can use it, or helping businesses reuse the cardboard they have. They appear to be just at pilot stage at the moment but taking enquiries.
  • Flex-hex use expandable cardboard sheets to protect bottles
  • Hub Packaging in Newry offer paper-based alternatives to bubble wrap.
  • Palletsock provide reusable durable socks for use to palette thereby doing away with the need for acres and acres of stretch wrap
  • Recycled cardboard packing material by Ecor
  • The OceanPackage is a start up in Berlin that sells returnable boxes made from salvaged marine waste.
  • Reuseabox is a UK company that sells second-hand boxes
  • And if you’re packaging a scale you can do away with the need of packing material completely with this packing machine that automatically creates packaging to order


  • Repack is a supplier of reusable mailers that customers post back once they’ve received their goods. They are based in Holland, Germany, Iceland and the US.
  • Re-zip is a Danish company offering reusable mailers.
  • Hipli is another reusable mailer company, this time based in France.
  • Living Packets offer a genius reusable rigid ‘smart’ box!
  • Limeloop is another brand of reusable mailers operating in the US.
  • Polybags offer paper, recycled plastic and compostable plastic mailers. They are based in the UK.
  • SR mailing in the UK supplies recycled plastic mailers.
  • No issue offer compostable plant-based mailers. They’re in the UK.



  • Buy second hand equipment when you can. Check out this blog article for a list of second-hand goods resources
  • Tools for Solidarity in Northern Ireland collect and refurbished sewing machines, knitting machines and leather machines for disadvantaged communities in Africa. They may be interested in selling to makers in lieu of a donation.

Garden Centres

  • Offer a plastic pot return scheme for customers.
  • Poispot in the UK is a cardboard pot that customers can transport their plants home in. Alternatively French company Le PoEthic offer biodegradable pots made from compost.
  • Stock plant pots made from salvaged ocean waste!
  • Use organic compost, and peat-free if you can. Offer compost for sale in returnable bags.
  • Avoid all herbicides and pesticides and explain why to your customers. If you’re looking for information on what to say check out my article on Wildlife Friendly Gardening.


  • Urban volt install LED lights with no money down. They get paid from a percentage of the savings you make from using less energy. They’re based in the US and Ireland.
  • Monitor your energy usage and set targets for reductions
  • Monitor your water consumption and set targets for reductions


  • Print posters with offers and invite customers to photograph instead of doing individual catalogues
  • Source your stationary from Klee Paper they offer products like refillable markers, low-toxin glue sticks, recycled paper etc
  • Use a custom stamp instead of business cards or printed coverslips or encourage people to take a photo of your contact details instead.
  • Use an eco print company like The Factory in Co Offaly. They print on recycled or sustainably sourced paper using plant-based inks and toners on low energy printing and finishing machines/ Their packaging is 100% plastic-free.
  • Consider using waxed cotton for outdoor signs instead of plastic coated ones like Millbee Studio did.
  • If you’re organising an event then contact Native Events in Dublin 1. They design, construct and run sustainable events. They may also be interested in any props that you no longer need.


  • Make local deliveries on bike
  • Make non-local deliveries with an electric vehicle.
  • Get yourself or your staff driving more sustainably with the device Lightfoot. It plugs into the vehicle’s on-board computer and monitors driving performance. This is then displayed on the dashboard with a series of little lights. They’re based in the UK.
  • If you do need to use a delivery company considering using one that uses bikes or electric vehicles or offsets it’s carbon emissions, like Irish owned EcoXpress or global brand DPD.

Positive Actions

  • 1% percent for the planet work with companies that want to donate 1% of their gross sales to environmental charities. They are based in the US but work with companies all over the world.
  • If you’re a jewellery maker it might be worth you joining the Responsible Jewellery Council


  • If you’re a maker of food products you might be interested in Open Food Network, a community-owned platform with the goal of connecting buyers with locally produced food.
  • If you’re in the fashion industry Common Objective will match you with organisations to help you on your sustainability journey and you may find Sustain Your Style a useful organisation too.

Thanks again for reading, till next week


Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

2 thoughts on “Sustainable Business; Makers 2023

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