My guilt free addiction to greeting cards.
According to the Greeting Card Association in the UK we send on average 33 greeting cards each per year, more than any other nation, we are quite clearly obsessed (I know I am) but how do we spend our hard earned cash ethically and in an environmentally friendly way?
We love the process of choosing a greeting card nearly as much as we love receiving one. I know I have whiled away many a happy hour (possibly days all told) looking through the funny, beautiful, poignant greeting cards on offer in what seems to be nearly every other shop on the high street (1 in 6 to be exact).
During Artists open house season I become a greeting card junkie, I am not ashamed. I make a point of buying at least one greeting card from every venue I visit. As a working artist I know how much every sale helps, that the profit made by the artist is tiny compared to the profit a large retailer will make on a card sale and I also know that cards produced by an artist are fewer in number than the mass produced cards found on shop shelves elsewhere - chances are no one else will be sending the same greeting card if you're using an artists card. I buy far more cards than I actually need guilt free in the knowledge that I am helping to support another working artist live their dream. I have a secret stash of beautiful greeting cards at home in a drawer, I pin them to my studio wall for inspiration, I’ve framed some of my favourites, I even send a few.
Greeting cards date back to the start of writing, wealthy ancient Egyptians and Chinese emperors were known to send written greetings (although obviously not to one another) In Europe greeting cards became popular in the 15th century when they were handcrafted, hand delivered and treasured by the recipient. By the 1850s advances in printing techniques and the invention of the postage stamp bought the greeting card to the masses. The popularity of the greeting card has barely wavered since. Virtual cards were tipped to finish the greeting card industry but their popularity was short lived; a virtual card leaves us with nothing to hold, nothing to display on the mantle piece and make us feel happy every time we see it.
Today as I see it the biggest threat to our love affair with the greeting card is our environmental conscience and rightly so. Greeting cards and envelopes use up natural resources and if decorated with foil or glitter they are difficult to recycle. More damaging to the greeting cards reputation and the environment is the plastic bag each card is sealed in to protect from sticky fingers and dirt while being displayed. Its an issue that I as a greeting card Junkie and as a producer of greeting cards have been grappling with for a while (as have I know other artists).
So what do we do? Stop producing greeting cards? Stop buying them? Could we go cold turkey or is there another way?
Luckily it seems that the smaller printing and packaging companies that many artists use to produce their greeting cards have also been grappling with this issue
Last year I started making some changes.
Most printers now offer to print on FSC (Forest Stewardship council) card and I choose to use it; this means that you and I can rest assured that the card I use comes from a renewable, responsibly managed source that offers protection to forests and the wildlife that lives within them.
My envelopes come from a company which sells and packages products made from 100% recycled paper, once you have opened your card you can pop the envelope into the recycling with no waste and no guilt (better still use it to write a shopping list on before recycling and save using another piece of paper).
I don’t use any metallic or plastic embellishments on my greeting cards so if you decide to throw one away it to can go straight into the recycling bin (but why? Do like I do and keep them forever pinned to a wall somewhere – my ambition is to wall paper a room with my favourites one day)
Finally and most importantly for me my new plastic card wraps are made from "annually renewable, compostable corn or potato starch" basically they are magic, pop one in your compost bin and check on it a week later, it will already be breaking down. As soon as my older card stocks are used up I’ll be popping a (recyclable) sticker on the back of each card packet letting the buyer know that the entire thing can be recycled.
Greeting cards, guilt free by me.
I will continue to research and source the most environmentally friendly options for my greeting cards as will many other independent artists (not sure about larger companies – check their packaging out) Next on my list to investigate are the inks used in the printing process, I will keep you updated.
So for now I can in good conscience continue to to produce and sell my cards and you can continue to enjoy buying them, You can find and buy my greeting cards here – and if you love someone enough you can even continue sending them.
You can buy biodegradable greeting card wraps from eco-craft find them here