Like most people, I watched Blue Planet 2 with David Attenborough and was made very aware of the damage that plastic was doing to the environment. In particular, the problem of single use plastics, like packaging. For example the plastic that greetings cards come in. Like the ones I sell. I realised that I was part of the problem and needed to make a change. ‘But that was back in November 2017,’ I hear you say. ‘Why are you talking about it now?’. Because, although I made changes in the past, it is still important now. How things are packaged has become part of the thought process when thinking about making a purchase.
How things were
At the time that Blue Planet 2 came out, all my cards were in plastic to protect them from damage. No matter where I sold them. It was all the same if it was in person, online or at Edington Farm Shop, which stocks my cards. Please note that the farm shop is currently closed due to Coronavirus.
What I changed – the easy bits
The first thing I did was stop sending out my online orders in plastic sleeves. I send out my orders well packaged in ‘Please Do Not Bend’ envelopes, so the extra protection wasn’t really necessary. The next thing to consider was selling to people in person. The whole point of having them in plastic is so they don’t get damaged while people are looking at them. So my solution for this was to have a set of my cards in plastic that people can browse, but when they buy them, they get one without a plastic sleeve.
What I changed – the less easy bits
That solution is fine selling them myself, but wouldn’t work for the shop environment. I could sell them loose, but they would get damaged and the envelopes would get separated. The first thing I did was to look into biodegradable packaging. I found varying reports of how long it would actually last for. Also they were more than 4 times the price of the plastic packaging. I know I shouldn’t put profits before the environment, but I am running a business, so I have to think about the financial side of thing every now and again. It wasn’t just about profits, but also about cash flow. How much I could afford to spend at that particular time. I decided to search for other solutions. As I had a good stock of plastic sleeves and I was using less of them already, I had time to see what I could find.
I experimented with using card and paper bands to keep the card and its envelope together. This seemed to work for keeping them together. However, it didn’t help with the problem of protecting them as shoppers browsed them. So I kept thinking and experimenting and googling possible solutions. I kept coming back to the environmentally friendly plastic. I looked at different suppliers and finally found one that was only 3 times what I had previously paid for the plastic sleeves, if I bought double the usual amount. That was from Eco-Craft, so I placed an order with them. It would would reduce my profit, but I felt it was the right thing to do for the environment. Also, I reasoned that the more people that made the switch to green plastics, the more readily available they will become and hopefully they will become more affordable.
And so back to now
That all happened in 2018. I did intend to write a blog about it at the time, but alas, I didn’t get around to it. I now get my biodegradable sleeves from Redcliffe Imaging, which is where I get my cards printed. Does this mean that all my cards are now in biodegradable plastic? The answer is sadly no. Because of the seasonal nature of cards, and the fact that I am using a lot less of them, means that I still have some cards in old non-biodegradable sleeves. I feel it is better to use these up, as to not would be an even greater waste of plastic. I am sure there are more ways I can help the environment, and I will continue to look for ways of doing that going forward.