Hello! Thanks for visiting Earth Greetings. I'm an Adelaide based creative and love living and working in SA where I regularly enjoy bushwalking and cycling. In my travels throughout Australia I've been lucky to visit some incredible natural wonderlands, such as the Tarkine forest in Tasmania, Kakadu National Park in NT, the tropical rainforests of Northern QLD and the unique coastal scrub of the Coorong in SA. Standing amongst the beauty and diversity of these wild places has inspired me to tread as lightly on the Earth as possible.
Humans have taken so much from the planet. We urgently need to change the ways in which we live and work to restore the balance so that native flora and fauna can once again flourish.
In 2003, I decided to take a leap of faith and quit my dreary office job to start a business which would tick all the right 'eco' boxes. I would produce greeting cards and stationery using 100% recycled paper and non-toxic printing, run the office on 100% Greenpower and donate to environmental not-for-profits. Drawing on some past experience working in the administrative side of the publishing industry, I thought it just a matter of making a couple of phone calls to find some 100% recycled or alternative fibre paper and a printer who could answer all of my questions.
At the time of the idea, I had no concept of the challenge that lay before me in trying to produce an "Earth friendly" product on paper - a product which I was about to discover can cause widespread environmental destruction on a grand scale!
The more I researched, the more horrified I was at how much environmental destruction can be caused by the paper making process. Dense, diverse forest which took years to establish is destroyed, wildlife loses its home or is confined to smaller areas, to the carbon-emmitting transportation of the wood, the pulping process using vast amounts of water, and pollution created in paper bleaching and printers ink ending up in our air, water and food.
I was now even more determined than before not to use any paper that had been created in this way for my greeting cards. However I soon discovered that 100% recycled or alternative fibre for offset print was not even available in Australia. In 2003, the highest recycled content card stock available in Australia (to the best of my knowledge and research) was only 50% recycled. The printer (and the paper supplier) were full of reassurance, telling me that this is "the most environmentally friendly stock available" and that it was produced at a mill with numerous environmental accreditations.
It also proved difficult to find printers here in Australia that took my questions about the printing process seriously and able to provide much if any information about what they might be doing to lower their environmental impact. Eventually, after lots of research and phone calls, I came accross a couple of printers who use vegetable inks exclusively (which do not contain mineral oil - which releases volatile organic compounds and hazardous heavy metals into the atmosphere) and at the very least lent an ear to my environmental concerns.
Every day, the major Australian greeting card manufacturers produce around 100,000 greeting cards. Unfortunately price still remains a barrier to commercial use of recycled stocks, which are often more than twice the price of a virgin fibre or mixed source stock. Presumably this is why most commercial greeting cards are still not printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
Thankfully, nowadays awareness of climate change and our ability to impact the earth as consumers has become a lot more mainstream. Consumer concern about the environment is driving a change for the greener in many industries.
There are now a number of imported 100% post-consumer waste papers available in Australia, however they are still price-prohibitive, inhibiting their widespread use. There have been some small changes to production practices here to keep within legal Environmental Protection Authority limits, however the Australian paper industry has a long way to go to catch up with European practices.
Unfortunately there is still a distinct lack of 'alternative' fibre papers such as hemp or kenaf available in Australia that are suitable for offset print. There are also questions to be raised over forest-clearing land to grow the alternative crops in the first place.
I can only conclude that 100% post-consumer recycled paper currently remains the best environmental choice. There have been many studies done which have revealed recycling paper uses much less energy and waste than making paper from virgin forest fibre. (Please see Paper, Printing & The Environment for more info.)
The forests that absorb carbon dioxide which is a major cause of global warming, are still dissappearing. Our water and atmosphere is still being polluted with poisons. Paper pulp mills are using water at an alarming rate. Our wildlife is losing its home. If we as consumers refuse to buy products that cause this level of destruction then manufacturers will be forced to use alternative methods.
The good news is, we now have a growing number of greener choices! As well as making informed purchasing descisions, perhaps you would like to consider joining an environmental organisation committed to preserving trees and wildlife for the future.
Despite the growing accessibility of electronic media, giving a greeting card is still valued today as a simple and thoughtful gesture to connect with another. I want to make this choice easy for people who care about reducing their environmental footprint. I also hope to inspire others to appreciate nature more and therefore endeavour to protect it.
In running a business, giving back to the planet is as important to me as having a minimal impact. Which is why Earth Greetings donates at least 10% of our after tax profits annually to environmental organisations making a difference, such as Trees For Life, The Wilderness Society and the Adelaide Koala & Wildlife Hospital. To offset our carbon emissions, we invest in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor re-establishment to help protect and recover declining woodland and shrubland fauna.
My mission is to use the most Earth friendly paper & printing alternatives available to design unique paper goods made with love for people and planet.
Heide Hackworth - Earth Greetings Founder