Join The Naked Cards Revolution
“Why on earth are so many small online card sellers putting little plastic sleeves around pieces of cardboard that are then being put into envelopes?” It was this question that led illustrator Becka Griffin and a small group of fellow designers to launch Naked Cards: a campaign to encourage online card sellers to ditch plastic wrappers in favour of either ‘naked’ cards or paper packaging.
Becka and the other Naked Pioneers hope to encourage other sellers to think more about packaging, to help challenge long-standing behaviours and take small, realistic steps to bring about a sustainable shift change in the online gifting industry. By joining their campaign, you can have a positive impact on the environment… and there are other benefits too: by choosing not to package your cards in cello wraps, you can save time and money. Win, win. In this blog post, Becka explains how the campaign started, what’s involved and how you can become a Naked Pioneer. Join in and help spread the word!
How the Naked Cards campaign began
At the beginning of the year, I set myself a January Challenge. I was going to be a more conscious consumer – starting by avoiding supermarkets for a month. This train of thought led me to trying to avoid single use plastics (it’s much easier when you are shopping locally). I went through my day-to-day life, working out where I could easily cut out takeaway cups, disposable straws, plastic bottles and so-on. I even acquired a second-hand bike. I was going totally green in all aspects of my domestic life.
Soon the time came where I could no longer ignore it; I knew I had to look at my business too. Since setting up Becka Griffin Illustration in 2009 I’ve done bits and pieces to reuse and recycle, but if I’ve never spent a huge amount of time looking at how eco-friendly my business and products are. Packaging choices seemed like the best place to start as until this point they were predominantly price-led, so I knew I would have to make some tricky decisions.
I started by simply reusing any bubblewrap I could get my hands on. It was saving me money and I had no complaints, so it was all good. I then did some research and found a supplier of biodegradable cello wraps for my greetings cards. They were a bit more pricey but I figured I’d give them a shot. They arrived, and yep, they were fine, but there was still something nagging in the back of my mind. I wasn’t entirely happy with this solution… I knew that these cellos take a long time to degrade completely, releasing methane and leave toxins in the soil when they do.
Around this time, I ordered some greetings cards from another online seller, and noticed that they were not in any form of cello bag. It planted a seed of an idea – I’d been using cello bags for years, because everyone else did… but were they even necessary – especially for cards which were being posted in a hardback envelope, directly to the customer?
A few days later, by chance, I spotted an Instagram story by another local designer-maker, Michelle of Vanilla Retro Stationery. She was asking her followers whether they’d mind if she started posting her greetings cards out without a cello. I messaged her immediately – fully in support of her idea and keen to see the results of her poll. The following day I ran a similar poll, and both had similar results – overwhelmingly people were really happy to forgo a useless piece of single-use plastic!
The concept spread quickly – my friend Louise (of Bookishly) got in touch to say how keen she was on the idea too. I wrote a blog post, coining the phrase “naked cards”, and things started to snowball. We set up a private Facebook Group for a little community of us card-makers who were really keen to roll out the idea. Louise set up a website and I worked on the graphics and social media, and we officially launched the Naked Cards campaign – to a hugely positive response – on 19th April 2018.
What can *you* do?
We encourage sellers to take the “Naked Cards Pledge” which is simply promising that they will not use traditional plastic cellos to package any further online card orders. We have graphics that sellers are welcome to download and use from our website, and we also have a rubber stamp that Naked Cards Pledgers can order from Emily at Skull and Crossbuns. (You can order yours here > https://www.nakedcards.co.uk/buy-a-stamp)
We soon became used to a lot of the same concerns from sellers – mostly “what if the envelope gets wet in the post?” and “what about trade orders?”. We’ve done our best to allay these concerns on our website. We’re primarily campaigning to encourage card sellers to ditch the plastic on their online orders and then look to explore eco-alternatives for craft fairs and wholesale orders.
We understand that sellers may have stock that is already packaged – even I do, and I’m still working through some bits of cello’ed stock. There are some things I’m struggling to find feasible alternatives for too – it’s just all about opening up that conversation and seeing what other people are doing that might work.
Why ditch cello wrappers?
The advantages to ditching cellos are many – there are the obvious environmental and financial benefits, but it also saves heaps of time – and perhaps the biggest incidental benefit is there are no more of those annoying static strips getting everywhere!
Some sellers who have taken our pledge have migrated from plastic to paper packaging, as their cards are embellished and need a little extra protection, and we’re fine with that. A paper bag can be re-used or recycled really easily. It is in many ways a much better alternative than a biodegradable cello.
We’re keen not to be the cello police – it’s so important to encourage little changes in a positive way, rather than point the finger at anyone who’s still using plastic for whatever reason.
Be a Naked Cards pioneer!
We haven’t got any accurate figures for how many people have taken the pledge so far, but with over 700 followers on our Instagram account already, we’re confident that there are hundreds of small businesses involved already and we’d love to welcome more into our Naked community!