Things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery. Desk with envelope, paper, pen, brown twine and cardboard packaging

5 Things You Should Look Out For When Buying Eco-Friendly Stationery

You love stationery. LOVE it. Notebooks, journals, writing sets, listpads, notecards, greeting cards, the lot. But you’re worried about the environmental impact of stationery. You want to protect and look after the planet. Turns out, your love of stationery doesn’t have to cost the earth! However, it’s not as simple as just picking the first greeting card that has a green sticker on it saying ‘eco-friendly’. There are several things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery, to ensure it is actually eco-friendly. The following tips will give you the knowledge you need to build a beautiful eco-friendly stationery collection that doesn’t cost the earth. 

Things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery. Various paper envelopes displayed on a table


1. Choose eco-friendly stationery made from FSC certified or recycled card

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit organisation that ensures forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible way. When buying eco-friendly stationery, do look out for small print, or a logo, stating that the stationery has been produced with FSC certified paper or card (this information can often be found on the back of a greeting card or notebook, or in the product description if buying online). This means it has come from sustainably managed forests. 

It is pretty standard practice now for most stationery items to be produced using FSC certified paper or card, so if that isn’t stated, it’s a big red flag that the stationery may not actually be that eco-friendly.

Then there is also the use of recycled card. When I started Jess A Little Creative, my eco-friendly greeting card business, I assumed that choosing to print my greeting cards on recycled card would be the most eco-friendly option, but there is a bit more to it than that. 

There is a great debate as to whether FSC certified card, or recycled card, is more eco-friendly. Some argue that the increased use of recycled card gives less demand for virgin fibres (from new trees), meaning less new trees will be planted. But, paper fibres can only be recycled 5-7 times, before the quality deteriorates too dramatically for it to be used again. To counteract this, recycled fibres are often combined with virgin fibres to ensure the production of a high quality, sustainable paper.

So, what does that mean for eco-friendly stationery? Well, the best option is to find eco-friendly stationery produced on FSC certified paper or card, that is also recycled, like these eco-friendly greeting cards. This ensures the stationery is making use of reclaimed materials, reducing waste, and uses new materials which have been produced in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way. 

Things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery. Hand holding illustrated sunflower greeting card with brown envelope

Sunflower greeting card, £3.50


2. Avoid stationery with glitter or lamination

Stationery is pretty, it’s beautiful, and that’s partly why you love it so much… but sometimes stationery is sparkly or shiny and that often means it isn’t eco-friendly. Any cards, notebooks or gift wrap that use glitter cannot be recycled. This means they will just end up in landfill - not good for our beautiful planet! 

Stationery that is laminated also cannot be recycled. Lamination is a printing method that gives stationery a variety of effects. It can make paper or card appear shiny, or metallic, for example. To achieve this, a layer is added to the paper, often made from plastic or other non-paper materials, which results in the stationery being shiny or feeling particularly soft or smooth. But it also means that that stationery is now non-recyclable.

To ensure you are using eco-friendly stationery, choose notebooks and greeting cards that are made using uncoated card stock, and don’t contain glittery or shiny embellishments. All Jess A Little Creative greeting cards are printed on FSC certified, uncoated card stock. The hope is that they will be kept and treasured forever, but if not, they are completely recyclable. Yay!

Things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery. Desk with paper, envelope, brown twine and cardboard packaging


3. Choose stationery with plastic-free packaging

The last few years have seen a massive increase in the range of plastic-free packaging alternatives available, that are affordable and easy for stationery businesses to source. There’s not much excuse for using plastic anymore, so always look out for plastic-free packaging when shopping for eco-friendly stationery.

This can include things like buying greeting cards that are packaged in compostable sleeves made from vegetable starch, instead of plastic sleeves, or buying gift wrap that is folded or rolled and tied with twine, rather than wrapped in plastic. 

This also applies to how stationery is shipped once it has been ordered online. Jess A Little Creative uses either board-backed envelopes, or cardboard postal boxes to ship all greeting card orders. These are then secured with recyclable paper postal tape, so the entire parcel is plastic-free. 

When buying eco-friendly stationery online, check the product descriptions and FAQs of the brand you are buying from, to find out how their products are packaged and shipped. Ensure there is no mention of plastic, or at the very least that they are making a conscious effort to reduce the environmental impact their packaging has. When your stationery arrives in its plastic-free packaging, you can find joy in recycling or reusing all of the packaging, without any plastic ending up in landfill.

Things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery. Two hands holding tree sapling and soil


4. Look for partnerships with climate positive businesses like Ecologi

A great way to ensure you are buying eco-friendly stationery, is to do some research into the brand, and see if they are partnered with a climate positive business like Ecologi (this information should be on their social media profiles, or at the very least their website). This means that they are taking their environmental responsibility seriously and are investing in a way to improve it, as partnerships like these often come at a financial cost. 

Jess A Little Creative partner with Ecologi, an amazing organisation who have already planted over 45 million trees, alongside lots of other incredible environmental initiatives, to help bring about positive climate action. Every time you place an order with Jess A Little Creative, one tree is planted. I knew I had to balance out the environmental impact of designing and selling unique greeting cards, and partnering with Ecologi was such an easy way to bring about positive climate action with my greeting card business.

There are many other businesses that offer schemes like this, such as One Tree Planted. As I said, eco-friendly stationery businesses should share this information on their website or social media, so do look out for it before ordering. There is something rather lovely about the thought of buying a greeting card, knowing that that purchase will result in the planting of a tree!

Things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery. Hands holding blue and purple dragonfly greeting card with a brown envelope, against a backdrop of purple flowers

 Dragonfly greeting card, £3.50


5. See if the stationery brand’s eco-friendly values extend beyond the business

By this, I mean getting to know a business on a more personal level (this is much easier with small businesses, as they tend to share more personal content!). By following and engaging with their social media content, looking at what they post on their Instagram Stories, and seeing if their day-to-day living, values and ethics show care for the environment and a focus on sustainable living, you should be able to feel reassured that their stationery products are likely to be eco-friendly too. 

This may not be immediately obvious, but when you spend some time getting to know the owner behind an eco-friendly stationery business, you can often see snapshots of their daily life, giving you an insight into their values and how eco-friendly they really are! Feel free to come and follow Jess A Little Creative over on Instagram and check out the behind the scenes content I share.

Things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery. Person putting folded and crumpled brown paper into a grey recycling bin


So there you have it, 5 things you should look out for when buying eco-friendly stationery. Check if the stationery is printed on FSC certified or recycled card, avoid any stationery with glitter or lamination, choose stationery with plastic-free packaging, look for partnerships with climate positive businesses like Ecologi, and see if the stationery brand’s eco-friendly values extend beyond the business. I am proud to tick all of these 5 boxes with my greeting card business, so please do go and check out my eco-friendly greeting cards to make a start on your eco-friendly stationery collection! Or read my Sustainability Promise to see all the things I do to ensure Jess A Little Creative remains as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. 

Thanks for reading, and happy eco-friendly stationery shopping! Jess x

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