Plastic Not So Fantastic

Plastic not so Fantastic – The journey continues…..

The green winds of change are blowing through 1973 HQ as we continue to work towards our ultimate goal of eliminating plastic, reducing, re-purposing and recycling to build a more flexible, sustainable business. As we look towards the future, we’d like to take a moment to share some exciting news and an update on some of the challenges we still face.

Over the years we have created ever more environmentally friendly products and always experimented with eco-alternatives to packaging. As early as 2007, our co-founder Emma designed ‘Paper Nature’ an innovative eco range using recycled grey packing board, also used for toilet roll cores, with foil highlights to give it a luxury feel. Our experienced printer at the time thought we were mad to embark on such a ‘crazy’ project but even he had to agree it had been a success when he was still re-printing it 8 years later!

The Great Cello Challenge

Of all the challenges we’ve faced over the years to design beautiful products using ever-greener materials and techniques, the quest to eliminate greetings card cellos from our business has proved the most difficult. Until now! It’s been a long time coming but after flirting with endless alternatives such as early corn starch bags (which turned to dust after a few months), peelable sticker clasps (which left marks), paper clips and fully naked cards, we have finally engineered what we think is a great solution to display most of our cards.

The ‘lightbulb’ moment came when we were looking at our 2003 wedding album (also the year we founded the company!) and noticed that the photos were secured in the album by four angled slits. This led us to design a bespoke backing card with slits to secure card and envelope, dispensing with the need for a cello bag and allowing cards to be protected and displayed. Although not 100% perfect, as it uses more paper, we feel that given the immensity of the challenge, it’s a good solution to a plastic problem that has plagued the card industry for years. Even many of the recent ‘eco bag’ options can still be pretty damaging to the environment. We feel this new paper solution is a fantastic way forward and really hope it can be adopted industry-wide.

Most of our cards are made from 100% recycled paper and the new card-holders will be made from the same paper as the cards they hold. We are so proud that the entire product will not only be produced from recycled card but can be 100% recycled again, giving it a new lease of life!

Product Innovation

We’re also making great strides in other areas of our offer and at each stage of our design process, the first question we ask ourselves is ‘how can we do this without using plastic’? An example of this is the new Emma Cooter Draws and Carolyn Suzuki sticker sets which were designed with beautifully illustrated paper envelopes.

We’ve also totally re-designed our card packs and replaced the acetate plastic boxes with 100% recycled bespoke cardboard ones, with foil decoration and a cool tear opening like the old washing up boxes, if anyone can remember that far back! We think they are a thing of beauty and hope you agree.

Also some of our card collections such as Emma Cooter Draws, Carolyn Suzuki and Rifle Paper Co (published from our sister company James Emma & Son Limited) are printed on fantastically environmentally friendly FSC paper from Sweden, using chlorine-free sustainably produced virgin fibre from Scandinavian Birch forests with sound replanting schemes. The paper mill uses off-cuts from the trees to generate its own green energy to power the mill and to share with the local community for grass roots projects.

We’re not there yet

Unfortunately though some of our products continue to present challenges. We are yet to find suitable alternatives to cello for our rolled wrapping papers and notepads, as they need to be not only protected but also seen, so customers can know what they’re buying. But rest assured, the hamsters in our heads are furiously spinning on their wheels in search of these elusive answers. We are not perfect but like to think we are nearly there in our quest to eliminate plastic across our business.

Watch this space……!

James, Emma and the Team xxx

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