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Learning to Run a More Sustainable Card Business

sustainable card packaging

I’ve been thinking a lot about learning to run a more sustainable card business. There’s so much waste in the world and as far as is practical I’d prefer not to be adding to it with my greeting cards! I’m still figuring it all out, and nowhere near there yet, but I wanted to share some of the ways I’m trying to produce less waste and make what waste I do produce reusable or recyclable.

Going plastic free

Cello bags

When I first started selling my cards my very first Etsy customer mentioned to me that she thought my presentation was unprofessional and that I should be using cello bags rather than wrapping the cards in tissue paper. Being the terrible people pleaser that I am, I was horrified and immediately went out and bought a pack of cellophane bags to put my cards in. It didn’t sit well with me though as I knew those bits of plastic would just end up in landfill.

I investigated buying compostable cello bags, but these didn’t seem like an ideal solution either. I knew that the majority still wouldn’t end up being composted! Either through lack of composting facilities, ignorance or apathy, they would still end up in landfill taking ages to decompose. And they were a lot more expensive to buy. I considered returning to my original tissue paper wrapping idea but then realised that I really didn’t need to do anything at all…

The solution?

My cards are all supplied with an envelope, so I decided that the best solution was to simply put the card inside the envelope before placing it in the shipping envelope. It seems so obvious now, but for some reason I hadn’t thought of it before. The card is protected by the envelope, the envelope is safe inside the shipping envelope, so anything more was superfluous! I’ve noticed that even in some shops the cards are bare now too, which makes me very happy. I’ve now made over 800 sales on Etsy alone and never had a single complaint about my cards arriving damaged or marked in any way.

A card within an envelope within a shipping envelope
A card within an envelope within a shipping envelope

I still have the majority of those original cello bags I bought (even though there weren’t very many). By the time I’d started to sell a reasonable number of cards I’d already shifted away from using them.

My shipping envelopes are also made from paper, with no plastic windows or padding. I’ve also recently found some really cute blue recycled cardboard boxes that I can sell packs of cards in. I want to start offering multi-packs!

Sustainable card stock

My cards are all printed on plain 350gsm card stock without any glitter or glossy coatings that prevent them from being recyclable. They’re lovely and sturdy but completely recyclable. I also feel strongly about purchasing my card stock from an FSC certified supplier. The FSC helps take care of forests as well as the people and wildlife living in them, so that way I know that the card I buy comes from well-managed and sustainable forests. You can find out more about the FSC here. I get my shipping envelopes from the same FSC certified supplier.

Sustainable card business - orders ready to post
Ready to post

The kraft envelopes I’m currently using are recyclable but aren’t FSC certified. I’m not sure whether the paper used to make them is sustainably sourced or not. I’m planning to switch to recycled kraft cards when I next need to order more in (I have about 540 in stock!) Ultimately I’d like all the various materials I use to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Next steps: Running my card business sustainably

I’ve just recently started thinking about how to run my business in a more eco-friendly way in general. I work from home, so no transport is required luckily! I know that there are lots of things in my business that could be changed to be more conscious of the environment though. For example practices I engage in and suppliers I use for things other than materials. I think there’s quite a bit of research ahead of me!

Let me know if you have any ideas or thoughts that could help me run a more sustainable card business. You can get hold of me via my contact form, email me directly at contactme @ or DM me on Instagram. I know I’m nowhere near perfect in this regard, so happy to get all the help I can!