Earth Greetings: Saving the environment one earth-friendly card at a time
Working as a book publisher, Heide Hackworth realised the extent to which environmental concerns were a non-factor in book production. “Those involved wouldn’t investigate the advantages of using recycled paper as it was deemed too costly, neither would they look at other options. I was aghast when I found out how paper and print production was adversely impacting the environment. I just felt compelled to do something about it,” says Heide. This realisation led the Adelaidean to create Earth Greetings, an enterprise selling earth-friendly greeting cards and stationery. The products are made of 100 percent recycled paper with minimal water and chemical use, and uses vegetable-based inks, making them one of the more exciting and eco-friendly gifting options out there.
TAL caught up with Heide to learn more about the way the cards are created, the challenges faced by the team, and their future plans.
Before we begin, please tell us something about yourself. Were you born and raised in Adelaide?
I was born in Adelaide and have lived here my whole life. I love the lifestyle Adelaide provides – an achievable work-life balance. In my free time I go bushwalking and with the hills so close to home, the number of recreational activities to indulge in are innumerable. About 14 years ago, before I started Earth Greetings, I worked in arts administration and did a traineeship in the publishing industry which helped navigate me into the world of stationery.
Do you incorporate eco-friendly practices into your life as well?
I've always loved nature, but 'going green' was a gradual thing for me. As a young adult who was living alone – after moving out from my home - I became more aware of how much waste just one person can generate. Thankfully in SA, we have had a competent recycling system in place for some time. I've also had the opportunity to travel to some stunning natural locations over the years, and that inspired me leave the lightest possible footprint. I've been vegan for about eight years and vegetarian my whole adult life. But in the last few years, I've also aimed to reduce waste by striving for a zero-waste lifestyle – like buying in bulk and cooking a lot.
When and what prompted you to start Earth Greetings?
Working at a book publisher, I witnessed the extent to which the environment could be ill-considered in book production. As mentioned, no one seemed to want to do anything about it. Old growth forest is being destroyed, and water is being polluted so that we can have paper! There had to be a better way. My determination to find greener choices led me to start Earth Greetings where I could implement those choices.
How do you go about creating these beautiful cards? Please take us through the process.
Initially, I did all the illustrations, and they were based on the many reference photos I’d taken of native plants and animals when I'm out walking. I use a tablet and draw directly into Illustrator. However nowadays I have no time to do original artwork, so I collaborate with a range of Australian artists, which I've come to enjoy.
For our cards they supply me with an image to fit, however for the stationery I do re-work a lot of art in a collage-like way using Photoshop, making a new composition to adjust the size and shape of the product. I also use InDesign to do the layouts for our annual diary and calendar, so there is still plenty to keep me busy in the design department.
What kind of research did you undertake before starting Earth Greetings?
I spent a lot of time researching paper production to ensure I could produce an environmentally friendly product. Environmental groups such as The Wilderness Society were a fantastic source of information as they have a long history of campaigning for the protection of old growth forest from logging. Seeing what was happening in Australia, where old growth forest was being cleared for paper pulp horrified me. Unfortunately, this is still happening - it's a constant battle!
Rare and threatened wildlife is losing its home, and the planet is losing biodiversity which can never be replaced to make a short-term profit. On a more positive note, I was able to find a local printer who was an early adopter, with environmental management already a part of their process. Eventually, I was able to achieve my goal of making paper goods from recycled paper with minimal water and chemical use, printed using vegetable-based inks in a carbon offset process.
How many cards do you create on an average?
Earth Greetings produce over 150,000 cards per year now; it's our core product. Though printing in Australia using 100% post-consumer recycled paper and carbon offsetting is costlier, it's so important to the integrity of my brand.
Why do you think Australians should opt for more earth-friendly souvenirs?
We should opt for more earth-friendly souvenirs because there are so many talented artists producing beautiful eco-friendly products in Australia today.
Buying an earth-friendly, Australian made souvenir means you'll not only be supporting a local designer (who will do a happy dance when you buy their things!), you'll be helping the environment by not contributing to the massive amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by freighting cheap imports into the country!
Do you get orders for cards from outside Adelaide as well?
Yes, although we have received fantastic support from local retailers! Most of the stores we supply are based in Melbourne and Sydney due to the higher population.
Please tell us about your team at Earth Greetings.
I work with a team of three, we are a down to earth bunch, and everyone is good at multi-tasking because we are all so busy! Everyone here is on board with reducing our environmental footprint so it's great to work with a team I can entrust to live out the vision I have for my brand.
What are the challenges that you faced and continue to meet while creating these cards?
Early on, I had to put on my best sales pitch to convince retailers to stock cards that weren't wrapped in plastic or cello and unpackaged stationery. Initially, they didn't get that there would be more and more people like me who would make the environment a consideration in their purchasing decisions. Thankfully times have changed, but it can still be a challenge.
What're Earth Greetings future plans like?
I'd like to significantly increase our support for environmental organisations. This gives me a great sense of purpose to come to work each day, and I hope it inspires people when they choose to buy our products.
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