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The Search for Sustainable Packaging

The Search for Sustainable Packaging

"There is no such thing as 'away'. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere." - Annie Leonard

Following on from my last blog post, I wanted to update you on the progress of Wit and Wisdom operations. Our hope is that by making small yet long-lasting changes, we are reducing our impact on the environment. This week’s focus is on sourcing sustainable packaging.

The majority of the packaging we already use here at Wit and Wisdom is recycled or recyclable cardboard and paper packaging.

All of our unframed art prints are sent out in cardboard-baked brown envelopes, and our framed prints, mugs and tote bags in cardboard boxes. 

If you’re interested in finding out what happens to your cardboard once you’ve put it into your recycling bin then check out this YouTube video.

We've also recently switched to biodegradable bubble wrap which is advertised as an “environmentally-friendly, recyclable and reusable product”.

The bubble wrap has a degradable additive blended into the resin during production to ensure it breaks down quickly in landfill. And once decomposition has occurred the only by-products that remain are small amounts of CO2, H2O and biomass that serve as nutrients for soil microbes, so that, in time, it is absorbed back into the soil with no harmful residues.

sustainable-packaging-large-roll-of-biodegradable-bubble-wrap-on-white-background

For that extra special touch, and to provide an additional layer of protection, we use recyclable candy stripe paper bags or recycled acid-free tissue paper to gift wrap products prior to boxing. 

We also use funky little ‘Wit and Wisdom’ and ‘Thank You’ stickers to seal our paper bags and wrapping. In the past I’ve ordered laminated stickers but we've now switched to un-coated paper stickers.

sustainable-packaging-from-wit-and-wisdom-includes-candy-stripe-paper-bags-and-paper-stickers

In order to reduce the amount of stickers we get through, we now use nifty refillable ink stamps to stamp the Wit & Wisdom logo and return address onto the envelopes we send out. We bought the stamps from a company called Stampit.

refillable-ink-custom-logo-stamps-by-stampit-for-wit-and-wisdom

Improving our packaging is a work in progress and there are still more changes to be made, but these will happen over time, as and when we run out of current stock and supplies. It would be so wrong to simply throw away perfectly good packaging supplies all in the name of becoming a more environmentally friendly business. Slow and steadfast wins the race!

So, the packaging changes that I will be making in the near-future are:

  • Mailers
  • Parcel tape
  • Cello bags.

From time to time, if an item is being gift-wrapped for example, we use mailing bags to send an order out. Currently, we have a supply of blue plastic mailing bags that we are working our way through, but once we’ve used up the current supply, we’ll either be switching to brown paper mailing bags, or these fabulous 100% compostable mailers from Noissue.


These compostable mailers are made from plant-based materials and will break down fully within 180 days in domestic compost conditions, which I think you’ll agree is a pretty impressive alternative to a plastic mailing bag. You can find out more about the Noissue’s eco-friendly mailers here.

We’re also switching to paper parcel tape. At the moment our cardboard box supplier sends us a free roll of polypropylene Parcel tape with every 25 boxes (so we have accumulated quite a lot of tape over the years), but I'm going to write  and ask them to consider switching from polypropylene parcel tape to a paper alternative. This will make any cardboard boxes we send out easier to recycle, as well as reduce plastic waste.

And finally we’ll be substituting the plastic cello bags that we currently use to package, protect and present our unframed art prints. Just like the mailing bags, our replacement is a compostable version, made from clear compostable vegetable starch. My only slight concern? If the customer decides not to frame their print straight away, the bag may eventually start to degrade and spoil the art print; so I’ll need to do some tests before I can make can say for certain whether or not this is the right solution.

As for our cards, we’ll be taking the ‘Naked Cards’ pledge just as soon as we’ve exhausted our current supply. ‘Naked Cards’ is a campaign to encourage online card sellers to ditch the plastic cello bags in favour of either “naked” cards or paper packaging.

sustainable-packaging-naked-cards-campaign-logo

So, that’s our plan of action for sourcing more sustainable packaging for Wit & Wisdom. We hope it makes a small contribution to the environmental effort by reducing and improving our consumption of resources.

The sustainable theme will continue in my next post when I take a look at the recent changes Wit and Wisdom has made to reduce the air miles of our international orders.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about the sustainable changes we’re making to our packaging? And if you have any advice or other environmentally-friendly packaging product suggestions that we can look at, then please do let me know in the comments below.

Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

Until next time,

Kate

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