According to a consumer survey, initiated by card publisher, Go La La, only 2% of the public want their cards wrapped, 53% want them unwrapped with almost a third saying they do not see this as important.
Keen to gain a broader understanding of what the public really is looking for in their greeting card choices, including on the environmental front, greeting card publisher Go La La initiated a survey run largely through social media channels. Involving 100 participates from all over the UK, while the sample size is small, nonetheless, Go La La’s co-founder, Laura Kavanagh and John Higgins feel that the findings are an indication of where the public stands on wrapped cards.
“The section of the survey which focused on plastic wrap and sustainable materials is hugely important to us as we really want – and need – to stop using plastic wrap on our cards. If I had my way, I’d stop it tomorrow. But it does need to be managed in a thoughtful and strategic way so that all our current and future retailers are on board with it and know what to expect,” said Laura Kavanagh, co-owner of Go La La.
Here she shares more about the survey findings and the background to it…
‘We undertook a survey of 100 members of the public to gather some feedback around their greeting card purchasing habits. One key area we were keen to learn about was the public’s attitude towards plastic wrap on cards. Naturally this is a huge topic in the industry right now and for us as publishers, the plastic issue isn’t just a business dilemma, but it’s also challenging our personal values.
In one section of the survey we asked the public to feedback what was important to them from an environmental perspective. The outcome was intriguing: 53% of the general public stated that the card NOT being supplied in cellophane was important to them, while only 2% stated that it was required.
Many participants selected both ‘no cello’ and ‘cardboard which is recycled and/ or from sustainable sources’, as being equally as important.
Another 32% of the survey participants stated they had no preference and so in theory, would be happy to purchase a card naked.
We found these results to be extremely insightful and believe they are also incredibly helpful in supporting decisions for publishers and retailers to feel more confident in moving away from plastic.
We know that the biggest headache for retailers is keeping stock clean and tidy and organised. Having worked in the reuse sector for many years previously, I’ve learned that manufacturing processes which create biodegradable solutions can be just as harmful to the environment – possibly more so – but in different ways.
Transparent cello film made from plant-based sources such as wood, eucalyptus or hemp (as opposed to oil used for plastic wrap) is useful in the card industry because it has low permeability to oxygen, moisture, oil, grease and bacteria. Unlike the standard polypropylene card wrap which is widely used in the industry, it can’t be recycled, but it is biodegradable, so it can be composted or sent to a landfill with the rest of your rubbish, and if properly composted can totally biodegrade within six months. However while that sounds eco-friendly enough, the manufacturing requires, among other things, the use of carbon disulphide which is highly toxic and is extremely corrosive and is known to have long-term toxicity to aquatic life. It can also release methane as it degrades, which is instrumental in global warming.
Anything which tries to combat the plastic problem will inevitably need to be manufactured and all manufacturing has environmental impact. We should keep asking ‘do we really need this?’ I believe that the cleanest and greenest solution is to try and manage loose cards and envelopes.
I was having a chat with a friend over the weekend about this subject and the dilemma for retailers keeping cards and envelopes clean in shops.
He’s a very practical sort, and at first looked at me blankly, before saying “Yes but, don’t forget that once we’ve signed, sealed and shoved that card in the post box, it’s then going to be thrown around on conveyor belts, chucked into bags and vans and at the mercy of the postie, but do you ever complain if it turns up grubby?”
I know that grubby envelopes are not helpful to retailers selling product but maybe by having these conversations with the buying public, we might start to relax a little and be more confident in taking the no-plastic plunge.
Another aspect which I think it’s important to remember with our current climate crisis is that we’re all living longer and usually when we think about the impact this has, we tend to apply it to the increased pressure on the NHS and social resources, such as housing and geriatric care. But of course it means we’re all still using the earth’s resources to sustain our life expectancy and that continues to have an impact. So while many people might think that the plastic on the humble card isn’t a bit deal, it really actually is when you consider how many millions of cared are still being sold wrapped.
We’ve produced a poster for shops to download and print if they’d like to display in-store in order to start a dialogue with their customers about the plastic wrap issue or even run an in-store survey at the counter. We think it will help to make the decision to stock more unwrapped cards and also to inform and educate the public about the way stock needs to be handled.
Similarly, if anyone would like any further information about this research, I am happy to share any other useful data and can be reached by phone at 01458 830913 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top: A design from Go La La’s Follow That Cab ‘Good Life’ range.