Greeting cards are, as a rule, fairly environmentally friendly. Usually made from FSC certified board and fully recyclable. However, as we shall see, the current hot topic is the cellophane that the cards are often wrapped in.
Of increasing concern to all of us is the use of 'single use' plastic across the whole retail spectrum. Sir David Attenborough's Blue Planet documentary was immensely successful in bringing the harmful effects of plastic in our oceans to the forefront of our minds. Sir David has made it clear that we all have to do our bit to reduce the use of plastic. I am glad to report that the greeting card industry has been quick to respond.
Whereas the greeting card themselves, being paper products, are usually fully recyclable, the issue is the cellophane wrapping. The purpose of the cellophane wrapping has been to protect the card from fingerprints and keep the card and envelope together, as these are otherwise prone to become detached from each other in traditional card shops (little children love to play with cards!). Greeting card publishers, retailers and customers alike are equally keen to reduce plastic packaging despite the convenience of having cards wrapped with their envelopes. The good news is that there has been a great momentum for change in this forward-thinking industry. Several publishers had already opted for biodegradable wrapping which I believe to be starch based. However, the industry clearly wants to do much more especially when it seems that such biodegradable wrapping still ends up in landfill or being incinerated on account that it is inseparable from other plastic film.
(Greeting card by Cath Tate)
Speaking for ourselves, at the Comedy Card Company, we have always requested our cards to be supplied 'unwrapped' where this is an option (although the majority of publishers automatically supply cards cellophane wrapped.) Being an online-only business, the issue of finger prints or envelopes going astray is not an issue for us compared to the traditional bricks and mortar card shop. However, things need to change and even traditional cards shops need to find a better way.
There has been a successful 'Naked Card' campaign, encouraging publishers and retailers alike to go for unwrapped greeting cards and ditch the cellophane wrapping. Publisher Woodmansterne has led the way in making the change: their new 'Smart Seal', a peel-off label that keeps the greeting cards and its envelope neatly together without the need of a cellophane wrapping is making its way into production. We have already received many of their cards with this new feature. Woodmansterne had not so long ago invested in a new cellophane wrapping machine (I believe at considerable cost!) but they realised that things had to change and despite their investment, decided to change course and come up with a better option.
Other publishers are quickly following suit - every week, we hear from another publisher and their plans to go plastic free. We believe this type of 'peel and seal' system will be commonplace in greeting card shops across the country very soon. Windles, a large greeting card printer has also created their own 'Kard Klasp' seal. Several large retailers have also committed to display their greeting cards 'plastic free' in the very near future. John Lewis is keen to only stock unwrapped cards as soon as possible, and Sainsburys has also promised to 'go naked' too.
While most of the greeting card that we currently have in stock still have a cellophane wrapping, I am confident that within a few months the picture will be very different, not just with us but with shops all over the country. As I have said, we already ask for our cards to arrive 'unwrapped' where this is an option with the publisher. We all want the same thing, from publishers to retailers to the customers, so hopefully before too long all greeting cards will be fully plastic free.