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Bishop Museum’s new drive toward being single-use-plastic-free has inspired staff to implement more sustainable practices both inside and outside of museum workplaces. This is also true for the small team of the historic Bishop Museum Press, which has now made steps to reduce plastic waste in their packing and shipping practices.

In recent years, the Press has expanded into online retail as a way to get its books to its valued readers. However, average shipping materials are not only costly but harmful to our environment. The convenience of Amazon and other online retailers has dramatically changed the way we purchase our personal and professional essentials. So, as consumers, we generate billions of tons of non-renewable waste through Bubble Wrap, cardboard, foam, and more.

As of 2020, with this in mind, Bishop Museum Press now sources its shipping materials entirely from the museum’s wider staff. By collecting from other museum departments and our own avid online shoppers, all books purchased at Bishop Museum Press Online are wrapped with love in re-used, “second-life” materials. Since this new strategy has been implemented, zero dollars have been spent on single-use-plastic packaging that likely would go directly into our customers’ trash. Additionally, using recycled materials has also allowed us to pass on our savings to our customers through reduced shipping costs.

Was this piece of Bubble Wrap once accompanying scientific equipment or protecting a precious cultural object on its way to the museum? Maybe. We hope that our shoppers will appreciate our recycling practices almost as much as they do our books. We also hope they will be inspired and find new ways in their homes and workplaces to mālama honua.

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