In 2021, I am committing to implementing more eco-friendly practices into my small business. For one of my first steps in this direction, I will start using paper sleeves and this new custom stamp to replace the clear plastic sleeves that I used to package individual cards.
Although this is just one step of many towards reaching plastic-free packaging, switching from plastic sleeves to paper ones for all of our individual cards will cut out a HUGE amount of single-use plastic! I'm excited to make this big change.
After a lot of research, I decided to use full paper sleeves instead of recycled plastic, biodegradable, or compostable clear sleeves. Why, you may ask?
I'm not an expert, but I read a lot on the topic and these are my findings that inform this decision. There are a few different options, each with their pros and cons. Recycled plastic sleeves are good because they're not made from virgin materials, but they're still not curbside recyclable and end up in the trash. While there are clear sleeve options that claim to be biodegradable or compostable, these can get more complex. "Biodegradable" just means it breaks down into smaller pieces, so that could mean it is still plastic that just breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic (which some say is worse for the environment). "Compostable" means it can break down in water (ocean) or soil, but it often still leaves behind toxic chemicals in our oceans and soil (also arguably really bad). The processes to make these can also have a bigger carbon footprint. Compostable or recyclable can also mean that it still takes years to break down, which means it is litter or trash in our environment for years. It can be really difficult to find out what the manufacturing processes or chemical makeup of these sleeves are when sourcing them to tell if they’re really “green.”
In conclusion, replacing our plastic sleeves with paper ones was the best option for kela designs for our greeting cards and stickers. It avoids the wide grey area of whether the "biodegradable, compostable, recyclable" labels are truly eco-friendly, since manufacturing processes/chemical makeups are not often found in product descriptions. Paper sleeves are affordable and curbside recyclable for the consumer, diverting waste from landfills.
Every little bit counts. One step at a time. Thank you for joining us on our journey forwards to make our packaging as plastic-free, responsibly-sourced, and eco-friendly as possible!