Reduce - Reuse - Recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Sustainability, ECO-friendliness, and recycling

The eco-friendly agenda has picked up speed in recent years. Especially Millennials and Generation Z have skillfully created awareness about environmental issues and are overall critical consumers when it comes to green demands.


Our ECO guide

As a jewellery designer, you need to focus on many things at once. You have to run a business, you need to find the right raw materials to work with, you need to come up with design ideas, you have to think of customer service, do marketing, take care of taxes and paperwork ect.

You have a lot on your plate!

So, should you spend an extra amount of time focusing on making your business more sustainable? That is entirely up to you. But in case you are looking for inspiration, we have created this guide for you.

Chances are that you already have a strong focus on sustainability. But we have made this guide anyway – just for good measure.

Check out the waste heirachy

The waste hierarchy

Different degrees of sustainability

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Everybody knows the three Rs. But did you know that there is a more expanded version called the Waste Hierarchy? Here is a brief introduction.

The fundamental principle is to rank initiatives according to their level of sustainability. The advantage of such an approach is that is becomes clear which initiatives are the most favourable.

It all began with a guy called Ad Lansink. If you have never heard of him, we don’t blame you. He is a former politician, who presented something called Lansink’s Ladder in the Dutch parliament in 1979. Internationally, this is now known as the Waste Hierarchy.

In the following, we present a variant of the waste hierachy with relatable examples from the jewellery and packaging industry. We begin at the top, with the most sustainable step of them all: prevent.


Not buying the product in the first place

If you are anything like us, you sometimes think to yourself: “Wow, I have too much stuff!” You look around your house/appartment and find countless items that you don’t really need. Imagine if you could go back in time and never purhace those items in the first place. That would certainly clear up some space… and you would have saved the money too.

We can only speak for ourselves, of course. But the lesson we have learned is to keep prevention of consumption in mind going forward. So whenever we are contemplating “should I get that frying pan with built-in magnifying glass as seen on the teleshop?” or “could a Siberian Tiger rug be the missing centerpiece of my living room?”, we know that we have the chance to prevent consumption.

We are exaggerating. Some more serious examples could be:

Say your jewellery store has a coffee machine that the customers can use for free. Perhaps there is a stack of paper cups next to the machine. And hundreds in stock under the counter. But why buy the paper cups in the first place? Maybe a second hand store nearby has a lot of cheep, yet cool, vintage mugs that can be used/reused instead?

Or say you have discovered some coffee stains on the couch in your shop. Do you need to buy a new one – or could it be enough with a reupholstery? This type of thinking can help you prevent consumption.

Read more about sustainability in this article

From a Westpack perspective: we actually sell jewellery displays that help you prevent consumption. It sounds contradictory, but hear us out.

See this display? The handy display block is fitted with an acrylic plate, kept in place by magnets. Behind this plate, you can add product information, brand information, advertisement, or simply a piece of wrapping paper to spice up your shop window.

In other words, you can customize it to get different looks for different occasions!

By adding different graphics to the display, you can have as much variation as you like. That way, you don’t have to buy a large number of displays to keep things fresh in your store.

See our selection of jewellery displays here


Moderate consumption

If consumption can not be prevented, it is important to consume moderately. This goes for packaging too. We are not suggesting that you should spend less of your business budget on packaging (heaven forbid 😉). We are suggesting that you invest the money in a way that favours quality over quantity.

If you go for quantity, you could end up buying tonnes of cheap postal boxes from an unknown supplier. The quality of the boxes could prove to be disappointing. You may even have to throw some of them away! And, most likely, they will not be made of raw materials that have any sort of certification.

Instead, you should focus on quality and buy a moderate amount of high-quality postal boxes from a supplier you know and trust. Our postal boxes are all FSC-certified, which means that the materials come from an FSC forest, where no more wood is cut down than the forest can reproduce.

See our entire selection of postal boxes here

We have a low MOQ (only 100 pcs) on our postal boxes, so you never have to order more boxes than you actually need. On top of that, we can brand your FSC-certified postal boxes! The boxes are easily assembled, and with relatively few means you can create an unforgettable unboxing experience.


Finding a more fitting size

You know how fastfood restaurants often ask you, if you want to super-size the menu? Well, this is kind of like that, only opposite. This is the step where you think about the size of your purchase. Not pricewise, nessasarily. But volumewise. You should find out exactly what you need, and buy that.

Perhaps you want to be able to ship your jewelley to your customers easily. Maybe you have even found the perfect Boston jewellery box for your brand. Well, there is a perfect way to minimize that purchase: buying our Frankfurt boxes instead.

These boxes match the Boston boxes, but they are shorter in height. In fact, they are just 17 mm high, so they can be sent as a large letter. This means that all you need to ship your jewellery to your customers is a Frankfurt box and a bubble mailer. If you want an even more eco-friendly solution, you could choose a Frankfurt ECO box and a padded envelope. Still, many jewellery designers prefer to ship their jewellery in postal boxes, because it enables them to give their customers an unboxing experience. In this case, it is still possible to minimize the purchace volumewise.

Our postal boxes are available in many sizes. And it is well-worth your time to find a box with the ideal dimentions for your jewellery boxes. It is a shame if the postal boxes are too large, and you end up sending empty air, because that means that an unnessasary amount of raw materials have been used in the production process.

In other words, you should find the smallest size that still fits your jewellery boxes.

See our selection of postal boxes here


If it ain't broke, don't replace it

This part of the Waste Hierachy is very straight-forward: if an item was recently used for a given purpose, and it is still intact, why not use it for the same purpose again? It sounds dreadfully simple, yet many people forget to reuse items like marmalade jars and glass bottles.

From an aesthetical point of view, people are most inclined to reuse items that are timeless in their design. This is worth remembering when you purchace things for your store – e.g. elements for your shop window. You want something that you will continue to use. Something that never gets old.

We have a series of fantastic display units with a very cool feature: they make it look as though your jewellery is floating!

This clever display solution consists of two wooden frames with a silicone sheet each, held together by strong magnets. Once you snap both halves together, your jewellery is held in place, almost in a state of vacuum, between the two silicone sheets.

Because the display doesn’t draw too much attention to itself, but makes your jewellery the center of attention, you are more likely to not grow tired of it. No matter what, these fantastic display units give your window display a very fashionable look!

See our selection of displays here


Finding a new purpose

Most people find “recycling” to be the most interesting part of the Waste Hierachy. Understandably so. There are three different categories of recycling:


Definition: To process materials or substances in order to regain material for human use.

Gold is possibly the most recycled of all materials – and it has been for thousands of years. As a jewellery designer, you already know this. The material has such a high economic value that only 2% of all gold, that has ever been mined, is not accounted for.

From a Westpack perspective: Most our jewellery boxes are recyclable – and all our postal boxes are.

Check out our recyclable jewellery boxes

See our jewellery boxes made of recycled plastic


Definition: To recycle something in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item : to create an object of greater value from a discarded object of lesser value.

This is the really fun version of recycling! This is where you come up with creative ways to bring new life to old things. When our customer Gaffelephant design creates elephant-shaped jewellery using old silver spoons, it is an upcycling initiative.

Another example could be to make a rag quilt out of a bunch of old tshirts. Or a coffee table out of an EUR-pallet!
You are only limited by your imagination.


Definition: To recycle something in such a way that the resulting product is of a lower value than the original item : to create an object of lesser value from a discarded object of higher value.

Downcycling is not as optimal as upcycling. Still, it is a great way to put a product to use.

An example could be when we suggest that a used postal box can serve as a cozy daybed for your customer’s cat.

Yes, we know. The cat will probably think that the box has a higher value as a place for it to nap than it had as a shipping box… and that is exactly why you should never take ecommerce advise from a cat!

Recover energy

From waste to wattage

If it is not possible to prevent, reduce, minimize, reuse or recycle, what do you do? You turn the waste into energy – either by incinerating it or by processing it to generate gas (or other substances) that can be conbusted. This type of waste treatment is sometimes called waste-to-energy. In some countries, the burning of plastic is, rather misleadingly, refered to as thermal recycling.

What’s that now? You think that plastic should be recycled in an endless loop?

It is a lovely thought. But unfortunately, that is not possible. Plastic consists of long molecules, and every time the material is recycled, the molecules are shortened. After 4-5 times of recycling, the molecules are too short, and the plastic is useless. In other words: at some point it becomes nessasary to convert some materials (including plastic) into energy.

Still, the most sustainable thing to do is to recycle the plastic as many times as possible, before it is converted into energy. That is why we are proud to have jewellery box/jewellery pouch series made from recycled plastic:

See our Torino ECO boxes made from recycled plastic

See our Seville ECO boxes made from recycled plastic

See our jewellery pouches made from recycled plastic


Up in smoke

When we get to this part of the Waste Heirachy, it is a nessasary evil. No energy is recovered in the process. The only benefit of the incineration is that the waste afterwards takes up less space and does not have to be dumped in a landfill. Oh, and speaking of landfills, we would like to introduce you to the last section of our guide…


A rubbish idea

We have now managed to climb down to the lowest step on Lasink’s Ladder. And we are standing kneedeep in waste. From this place in the waste heirachy, things do not look pretty. What a shame we have to end the article this way…

You know what? We could also end the article with a breif historical perspective on garbage disposal.
Would you like that? We will make it entertaining, we promise.

The idea of using landfills is very old. As far back as 2,400 BC, there was a law in ancient Athens where citizens were required by law to take their trash out to the boarders of the city and bury it. That way, the garbage wouldn’t taint the streets or be thrown into the waters of the Saronic Gulf. But the idea didn’t catch on in other parts of Europe until much later.

Even in the European Middle Ages, it was common practice for townspeople to pour waste and garbage out of their windows and down onto the sidewalk. That is partly what made the plague spread so vigorously.

You would be surpriced how late the modern version of landfills were introduced. Even in Manhattan (New York) in the 1870s it was common practice to dispose of garbage by throwing it into the East River.

Today, this sounds ridiculous, but it just shows how our perspective changes throughout history. And who knows? Maybe one day, 50 years from now, people will look back and say: “I can’t believe we used to [insert common practice here] in the 2020s”.

Well, that is it for our guide on eco-friendliness, sustainability and recycling. We hope you found it useful!

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