Image credit: Paper Culture
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For many people, the pandemic has reminded us of the pleasures of sitting down to put pen to paper, or of receiving something in the snail mail from a friend. But even though the tech industry is in hot water for its toxic effects on society, the paper industry also has its challenges — it’s environmentally damaging, and known for its high carbon footprint due to the resource-intensive processes required for making its products.
Paper manufacturing releases chemicals such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide, into the air, contributing to pollution such as greenhouse gases and acid rain. The paper industry also accounts for 13 to 15% of total wood consumption and uses between 33 and 40% of all industrial wood traded globally.
So whether you are sending save-the-dates, holiday cards, or birthday cards, make sure you shop your values and send out only good vibes. You wouldn’t want to gift a pretty birthday card knowing it’s jeopardizing the joy of years to come!
What to look for in eco-friendly wedding invitations, cards and stationery
Natural materials: Many brands listed below create 100% biodegradable and home compostable products. These cards and invitations are made from alternative materials such as cotton and sugar cane, and some include plantable flower seeds.
Recycled materials: Unlike plastic, paper is one of the most easily recyclable materials. And supporting recycled materials helps reduce the demand for virgin wood.
Eco-friendly ink: Petroleum-based ink is harsher on the environment, plus it emits a higher amount of VOCs: chemicals that can negatively affect humans, including liver and kidney damage. Instead, favor brands that use vegetable-based, black algae, soy-based or water-based inks.
Certifications: Look out for brands that use paper certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which are organizations aiming to promote sustainable harvesting of trees for virgin wood, paper and other tree-based materials.
Sustainable packaging: Numerous brands offer plastic-free packaging. Double-check that they wrap your item in either reusable, 100% recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
Paper Culture creates contemporary, modern, and minimalist cards. Its products are made with 100% recycled paper and other eco-friendly materials, such as alternative non-tree fibers. It manufactures its paper domestically to reduce its environmental impact further and offsets 100% of the carbon footprint of its production. Paper Culture also plants a tree with every order with over 1 million trees planted so far.
Artifact Uprising sells high-quality invitations, cards and stationery. The brand intentionally selects paper composed of recycled fibers for its products, including the interior pages of its Hardcover Books and Softcover Books. Artifact Uprising is one of the first photo book companies to use Mohawk Options Paper, which contains 100% post-consumer fiber. All of the electricity used for manufacturing is matched with renewable wind-generated electricity.
Blanco Canvas creates timeless, stylish and sustainable wedding invitations at affordable prices. Its invitations are made of recycled paper and have a nice, soft texture. You can also purchase vow books, notebooks, and agendas.
Founded in 2014, LittleGreenPaperShop started out using seed paper and 100% biodegradable paper, but has expanded its range, including elephant poo paper and sugarcane paper. To grow the paper’s seeds, make sure you place it in a pot with compost and water, as the brand recommends the paper be kept moist at all times. Also, keep the pot somewhere light and warm. Once the seeds are large enough, you can decide to transfer them to your garden.
SisterlyStationery’s paper and card are made using responsibly sourced Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and environmentally-friendly Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) pulp. Its inks are also vegetable-based, and its packaging is plastic-free.
Bella Figura uses vegetable oil-based and low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) inks and low-VOC and citrus-based solvents for its letterpress cards and invitations. It recycles and composts its waste and uses recycled packaging materials. The papers themselves are made of reclaimed cotton fibers from the garment industry, and its colored papers are FSC-certified. Bella Figura is entirely powered by wind through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).
ForeverFiances sells plantable paper that is created with recycled paper and embedded with wildflower or herb seeds so that you can bury the invitation in your garden rather than throw it away. It also prints using vegetable-based ink, offering an array of colors ranging from white to bright green to lavender and desert brown.
Words With Heart is an eco-friendly print and stationery social enterprise that funds education projects for women and girls. It produces all kinds of business, event and personal stationery, such as business cards, invitations and notebooks. The brand measures its impact in “days of education,” meaning when you buy its eco-friendly postcards, it lets you know the number of days of education for women and girls across African and Asia you are helping to fund through its project partner NGOs. All of its products are made sustainably, using 100% recycled paper and sustainable stocks, eco inks and green electricity. It recycles its paper offcuts and uses recycled packaging.