At home, and in my studio, I have been recycling plastic, glass, cardboard etc and trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use, for a number of years. This has been relatively easy at home because if I’m unable to purchase a product in a glass jar or bottle, or purchase fruit/veg. not wrapped in plastic – we shop elsewhere.
Saying that, I’ve found it far more difficult with my Studio items. I post most products wrapped in clean recycled cardboard, but for mugs and breakables I still have a huge roll of bubble wrap, purchased years ago, and still waiting to be used. A couple of years ago, a friend also pointed out to me that my greetings cards were all wrapped in cellophane bags. It had crossed my mind when producing cards in the very early days; but because of its transparency, protectiveness, and as polypropylene bags were seen as an indication of ‘newness’ used by all large greetings card manufacturers, along with many other artists – I just blindly followed suit.
Traditionally cards were always sold unwrapped; with envelopes stacked behind the respective cards in the card rack. It is ironic that I didn’t give it more thought because, at 16 yrs of age, I worked in a small local greetings card shop. In the morning, before opening for the day, I would fill the card racks; placing the correct amount of envelopes neatly behind each card design. Customers would select a card, and at the same time pick up the envelope to suit. Cards didn’t ever look dirty or scuffed – they were popped into a paper bag and that was it.
The impact that throwaway plastic is having on our planet is grim and I wanted to be sure that I was no longer contributing to it. I had to find a more ‘eco-friendly/plastic-free’ way to package my greetings cards; whether for display in my Studio, or when mailing to customers. I experimented in my little Studio shop, and it sadly became apparent that we have all been brain-washed into needing that cellophane wrap. All the wrapped cards sold and the ‘naked’ cards of the same design, stayed put. I decided to stick to my guns though, and months later inadvertantly stumbled across an article about the ‘Naked Card’ campaign. Publishers and retailers alike were being encouraged to go for unwrapped greeting cards and ditch the cellophane wrapping. I was delighted to learn that I was not the only one thinking on these lines.
Now the technical bit…..I’ve since been doing a bit of research and have learned that some supposedly ‘eco-friendly’ cello packaging breaks down into environmentally damaging micro-plastics. Plant based PLA (polylactic acid) is proving popular as it is biodegradable in the right composting conditions, but again it is not really the answer as compostable materials already have a recycling problem…. due to identification and separation. As with all recycling, many products are also still ending up in landfill sites due to lack of investment and infrastructure.
On a more positive note, some companies are now using a product called ‘Smart Seal’; a peel-off label that keeps the greetings card and its envelope neatly together without the need of a cellophane wrapping. This is fine, but for some card designers this may not be very practical especially if the cards are handmade, and the designs are intricate and perhaps easily damaged.
So, am going to continue producing and selling my ‘naked’ cards. Whether on display, or ordered on-line, all cards will be presented wrapped in a thin, pretty paper ribbon, containing a short printed message: keeping card and envelope together. Each card will be packaged with care and love, and posted in a sturdy cardboard envelope. This is a great step forward for me and I just wish I’d done it sooner. Please also, wherever possible, support any artists you see displaying their cards ‘naked’ – help us to ditch that cello packaging.
“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all.”