With the re-launch of our store, both physically and online, we've set new standards for ourselves when it comes to sourcing. One of the reasons we decided to renovate and re-think the way we do things is because we realized that a lot of the things we were selling didn't follow our own personal standards of consumption. Sustainability in stationery is kind of a contradiction because by choosing to use stationery instead of digital ways of writing or organizing, we're choosing to use a physical object that eventually creates waste. But for those of us who consider stationery to be an essential, whether it be in our work lives or for personal enjoyment, we believe that we can all do better. So here we are, trying to do better.
A big one for us is to try to source products in specific categories domestically before importing. For many product categories, there just aren't any domestic options, but for many there are! Are there a million cool Japanese notebooks? You bet! But we're choosing to sell mostly American-made notebooks instead, because notebooks are heavy to import and there are so many great American-made alternatives! With every rule there are exceptions, and we are allowing them (hi, Emilio Braga! We <3 you!) for things that we deem irreplaceable.
Packaging is another facet that is difficult to tackle. We have a hard rule now that we don't sell anything that is considered a single-use item (like sheets of stickers and greeting cards) in plastic packaging. And for things like pencils, there's simply no reason for them to come in non-recyclable boxes, so we've eliminated the ones that don't. We'll always have some items that come in plastic packaging because it's just unrealistic to eliminate it entirely, but if there's an choice to sell a different option that doesn't or if we can work with the vendor to ship it to us plastic-free, we're making sure we make the right choice. The truth about paper products is that sometimes shrink wrapping is necessary in order to ship safely, and that's something we understand and are okay.
Another thing that we've always done is to re-use all of the protective packaging materials that come out of the boxes that are shipped to us. We have mountains of paper and bubble wrap in our basement waiting to be re-used with online orders! And recently, we've started using wrapping paper scraps and magazine pages to make our own envelopes for packaging purchases.
Here's a little list of things that we're prioritizing:
1. No non-refillable pens
2. No single-use items in unnecessary non-recyclable packaging
3. Only American-made greeting cards in our physical shop (why import cards when there are so many talented card makers right here!)
4. Choosing small brands over large ones when there's the option
5. Highlighting products made out of post-consumer materials
6. Re-using as much packaging in our shop as possible
7. Offering pen and marker recycling in our shop, as well has recycling any plastic packaging that comes through our doors via Terracycle.
8. Less bags and storage items made out of animal products
9. Encouraging customers to actually use the things they buy from us!
10. No limited edition products that are on a regular release schedules (we don't want to encourage fomo-induced hoarding!)
In general, we've always been pretty hand-off with marketing, because we believe in buying things that you love, things that you need and things that you'll use. We're never going to try to upsell something or encourage you to buy something for the sake of buying it. We'd rather sell you less stuff and know that there's a place for it in your life.
No one is perfect, and we do not endeavor to be a "zero waste" shop, but we want to help encourage smarter choices. In the past year especially, we've all really learned the importance to being mindful about where we spend our money, which starts with where retailers choose to source their products.