For many years, at home and in my studio, I have been recycling plastic, glass, cardboard, etc, and trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use. 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 – I shop elsewhere.
Unfortunately, I’ve found this far more difficult with my Studio items. I post most products wrapped in clean recycled cardboard, but I still have a huge roll of bubble wrap for mugs and breakables, purchased years ago, and still waiting to be used.
A couple of years ago, a friend also pointed out that my greetings cards were all wrapped in cellophane bags. When I first started producing my own cards, this was of concern to me. Polypropylene bags were seen as an indication of ‘newness.’ Large greeting card companies were using bags due to their transparency and protectiveness. Along with many other artists – I started to blindly follow suit.
Traditionally, cards were sold unwrapped: the correct-sized envelopes stacked in the card rack behind each design. Ironically, I didn’t give it more thought as, 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 – I popped them into a paper bag, and that was it.
The impact that throwaway plastic has had on our planet is horrendous. Not wishing to contribute further, I had to find a more eco-friendly/plastic-free way to package my Greetings Cards: whether for display in my studio or mailing to customers. I experimented in my Studio shop, and it became apparent that we were all brainwashed into needing cellophane wraps. 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, I inadvertently 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 taking action and 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 – isn’t so friendly. It breaks down into environmentally damaging micro-plastics. Plant-based PLA (polylactic acid) is proving popular as it is biodegradable in the right composting conditions. Still, it is not the answer as compostable materials already have a recycling problem due to identification and separation. Too many products are still ending up in landfill sites due to a 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 for cellophane wrapping. This may not be very practical for some card designers, especially if the cards are handmade and the designs are intricate and perhaps easily damaged.
So, I am going to continue producing and selling my ‘naked’ cards. My cards are presented, wrapped with a thin paper ribbon, containing a short printed message: keeping card and envelope together, whether on display or ordered online. Each card will be packaged with care and love and posted in a sturdy cardboard envelope. This is a significant step forward, and I wish I’d done it sooner. Please also, wherever possible, support any artists you see displaying their cards’ naked’. Please help us to ditch that cello packaging.
“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all.”