This post is mainly aimed at small businesses but there are definitely other companies that would benefit from a few of these...
Being better for the environment is not all about recycling but also thinking about the materials you are using to reduce your waste and other non eco-friendly materials. 'Reduce' is a main point brought up here.
Also, this post is mainly aimed for those with frames, prints, cards etc but can also be more widely used in small craft businesses!
First things first, PLASTIC!
"1. Since the 1950s, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide.
According to a report from the Guardian, an estimated 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s — that’s equivalent to the weight of more than 800,000 Eiffel Towers.
And only 9% of it has been recycled." - Global Citizen
I should also stress this blog post isn't to bore you with plastic facts but to give you simple swap outs to benefit your business. Hopefully the image above will help inspire!
Reducing your use of plastic
Simple swap outs that I have used concerning products...
- Perspex for glass
This is controversial for some as I know perspex is made of acrylic which is a type of plastic, also some prefer the look of glass to acrylic. However, as you are not throwing out the perspex and it is a permanent feature of your product you are not clogging up mass landfill with it!
Perspex is also great because it rarely breaks in transit, it is also lighter saving you some weight in postage and carrying around to your events. From a distance, and framed you really could not be able to tell the difference between perspex and glass.
The reason why I prefer using perspex over glass is how I can now package it with as little packaging as possible for my website orders. Forget masses of bubble wrap and praying it won't smash and gouge out parts of your frame, perspex packaging can really be as simple as a strong cardboard box with paper padding.
This saves you money in the post office and also helps reduce your costs on packaging, as you will hopefully use much less!!
The materials in the packaging come under the term "void fill" and lots of other options are also available such as biodegradable air bags which are excellent at protecting delicate goods.
The most common plastic swap out.. bags!!
- Paper for plastic
Paper bags have this reputation for being weak and fragile, they mostly used to be but most now are relatively strong! Recently I have found most of the paper bags I use, even the bigger sizes are capable of holding large 22" x 18" frames without issue. The common problem previously with frames was the corners slowly making a hole in the bag. With the swap out of glass for perspex lighter frames means less chance of damage. I also feel larger paper bags from the right place are made from thicker paper and can withstand much more.
A great place I find carrier bags quite cheaply is ebay, or there is also a shop with a great selection of product choice here https://www.carrierbagshop.co.uk/
If even a few businesses made this swap this would make a huge impact.
You can even stamp paper bags with your logo for additional branding, and many colour and print options are available, you don't need to go for boring standard brown!
A great local business who do custom stamps - Ribbon Design
Image - Stamp it store
Packaging swap out
- Pizza boxes
Pizza boxes are a great way to transport and post shallow items such as framed art, canvas prints and prints. These are sturdy, most fold up without any need for tape! They also look smart and are stackable for storage. You can stamp with your logo and label the front so you know what products are inside. The best part is the cost. Pizza boxes can cost as little as 30-40p for big sizes and you don't need to buy them in huge bulk either. I get my pizza boxes from ebay in white which is practical and smart looking.
These also reduce the risk of your items getting damaged or scratched. Have you ever spent hours bubble wrapping each frame individually for an event? You could be putting them straight into the box!
- Eco Jiffy bags
Not everyone needs pizza box sized packaging, I know i need something to post items such as cushion covers, placemats etc! Green Jiffy bags are a great swap out for bubble bags. They are also super strong!
- Paper tape??
This one isn't for everyone, but after I swapped for this tape I realised it's actually stronger than most plastic tape! Not the gummy tape but Kraft tape..
After making the swap to this tape I haven't looked back, I use much less tape than I used to AND this tape can be recycled with the cardboard box! When you throw out your cardboard box with the plastic tape still attached, this can't actually be recycled. For extra strength you can find reinforced Kraft tape on the internet.
- Pure Cellophane
Not necessarily a swap out as i'm sure many of you will use cellophane for your products, such as cards and print packaging to keep everything clean. No need to despair or to wrap everything in paper, pure cellophane is biodegradable! So for your single use plastic packaging, this one is actually okay! Just make sure when you buy your cellophane seals it is 100% cellophane.
Last helpful tips!
- Framing can also be more sustainable. I know I have touched a lot on plastic but wood and cardboard should also be used mindfully. I make sure I use companies for framing that source their mouldings responsibly, sustainable forests are really important for the environment.
- An easy tip is also recycle what you are given! Instead of doing a tip run every time you get a delivery, re use the boxes you have. If you have good wrapped in bubble wrap, re-use it again for your next packaging! It would be much better than it lying in the landfill.
- Source local! Manufacturing doesn't always have to be the other side of the world. There are many great packaging companies in the UK and the EU, it doesn't need to travel 100,000 miles before it reaches you. The more locally you source your products for making, the better! A great Spanish packaging company, fully custom products
This is a lot to take on! And without becoming obsessive over every ounce of plastic you come across try and adopt one swap out. When you run out of plastic bags and need to do a re order, try paper! When you run out of plastic tape, try craft tape! Next time you need a new 100m roll of bubble wrap.. try bio degradable or even start boxing your work.