We all experience disillusionment.
I did about a fortnight ago when I discovered that my supposedly biodegradable cellophane packaging is not actually biodegradable, nor is it real cellophane – it is biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP). I was horrified, as I thought I was using environmentally friendly packaging for my artwork and other merchandise.
I am angry that manufacturers and retailers are selling ‘cellophane’ that is NOT cellophane. True cellophane is made from plants containing cellulose, hence its name. Cellulose is the structural component of plants. It was popular for gift and food wrapping until the 1960's but demand for it has declined due to the increased production of petrochemical-based plastics like single-use plastic. Cellophane is biodegradable – breaking down in less than 6 months. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to find true cellophane, and even harder to find it made in the sizes needed for artwork packaging.
In my search to find eco-friendly packaging, I realised there is little geared specifically for artists. There is some packaging available for clothing and food retailers, but not much for artworks. Since my original paintings, drawings, giclee prints, embroideries and other merchandise need to be waterproof and acid-free, my options have been small. I am constantly researching to find better alternatives so when I need to re-order packaging supplies, I am ordering the best eco-friendly packaging available at the time.
My aim is to raise awareness of endangered species and plastic pollution is a threat to many species around the world. Like many other nations, soft plastics are not currently being recycled in New Zealand and I believe that each country should be responsible for recycling their own waste, not shipping it to another country! I am determined not to add to single-use plastic pollution (which adversely affects our environment), so am using recyclable or reusable paper packaging wherever possible.
Once it arrives, my new packaging will include:
Glassine Bags: these are 100% re-usable and recyclable, since they are 100% biodegradable paper. Glassine does not contain silicone or poly additives or coatings, and is acid-free, archival (long-lasting) and humidity resistant, making it perfect packing for our giclee prints and greeting cards.
Jiffy Rigi Mailers: made from recycled paper and can be recycled.
Compostable Bags and Mailers: the compostable zip-lock bags are perfect for re-use and home composting. They are not fully transparent but are clear enough to see your order. I have less control over mailers, as some of my merchandise is sent to the customer, directly from the manufacturer. This reduces unnecessary transportation, postage and interim packaging and I have elected manufacturers based on their willingness to use compostable mailers, rather than other plastic mailers.
As original artworks are expensive and irreplaceable, most of them will be packaged in waterproof polypropylene (PP) bags, which I would like to replace with an enviro-friendly option when a suitable type is found. I would like to encourage my customers to re-use any protective plastic packaging in their parcels. In addition, I will be re-using any plastic I receive, so you may receive merchandise wrapped in re-used plastic.
In stores, polypropylene (PP) bags or biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) bags are necessary to protect art products. All my products are accompanied by a friendly reminder to re-use these bags, so they do not contribute to single-use plastic pollution.
To help my customers identify the future disposal of the packaging, I will stamp each piece of packaging with the following symbols:
All paper packing (incl. glassine bags & cardboard mailers) is recyclable.
The zip-lock bags can be composted in your home compost. Please check the directions for the compostable mailers.
All packing is re-useable.
Please join me re-using all plastic and paper packaging.
In the future, I hope to be able to package my artwork and merchandise in 100% environmentally friendly packaging, but until such a time, please compost, re-use and recycle your packaging. If you know of any packaging suppliers, who offer environmentally friendly packaging suitable for artwork, giclee prints and other merchandise, please comment. I would love to be able to offer guilt-free packaging.