I’ve been looking more and more at how I can make my business and products more eco-friendly; just after New Year I ordered samples of biodegradable cornstarch cellos and was starting to do some sums to work out if I could manage to absorb the extra cost involved (4p per cello doesn’t sound like much, but with increasing paper and postage costs it all has to be factored in).
I was still aware that biodegradable cellos were not a complete solution – they still take an awfully long time to degrade, and they will still end up as waste in the interim. Paper bags were another option, but the logistics of paper bagging each card (and then not being able to see which card was which) really didn’t seem logical.
And then I saw an Instagram story from one of my Mersey Etsy Teammates, Vanilla Retro, that stopped me in my tracks. Michelle was conducting an IG poll asking if people would mind if they ordered a card online and it came without a cello.
Instantly I realised that she had the answer already. I suddenly remembered recent purchases from Thortful and Do You Punctuate – neither of which had used a cello. The cards had arrived pristine, and it really hadn’t registered as any sort of issue of me.
I conducted my own survey via Instagram, and chatted to a few people (including Michelle) about it. A few people raised valid concerns:
What if the envelope gets wet?
It’s unlikely to get so wet that the card itself will be damaged, and if it does, is a flimsy cello really going to protect it? Worst case scenario, I’ll replace the card.
What if the card gets a mark on it?
Again, that’s unlikely – as the unmarked card is going into an envelope, with a delivery note wrapped round it, and then taken out of the envelope when it’s delivered to the customer. If it happens then I will of course replace the card.
My survey results were resounding – 90% of people were unconcerned about receiving an un-celloed card. My IG story attracted the interest of Louise from Bookishly and Jules from Mollycat Craft Co, who both did their own research which came back with similar findings.
And so, as I ran out of packaged stock, I started to post out un-packaged greetings cards. My social media posts announcing this have gained nothing but positive comments – it seems that people are really happy to eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging. I've had no complaints from customers so far either.
An incidental bonus is that it takes a lot less time to prepare stock when you’re not cello-ing. And – as any card seller will report – those little plastic self seal strips get everywhere. I am so excited to not have to contend with those static little buggers any more.
It’s also cutting a material cost, which will conveniently come at the same time as Royal Mail increasing their postage prices – meaning I won’t have to increase my sales prices to cover this.
I’ve still got a lot of stock of cello-ed cards; so I’m not totally cello-free yet. But as these stocks deplete I won’t be renewing them. I’m going to get a little stack of biodegradable cellos for my prints and any wholesale orders – unless I can find a way round that. And I am going to actively encourage other card-sellers to do the same. It won’t work for everyone – but I’d challenge other sellers to give it some serious consideration.
Next up, I need to sort out a proper recycling system. I'm due to move studios in the coming weeks, so I am planning to tackle this head on once I’m in the new space.
What do you think about me going cello free? Would it bother you as a customer? If you’re a small business would you consider following suit?