War on Plastic

Yorkshire 2020 Calendar

I don’t know if you saw the recent War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita series on BBC1 but it’s well worth a catch-up if you missed it.  I’ve been trying to avoid the non-recyclable plastic packaging in my shopping for quite a while, but I’ve been checking that the plastic packaging I did buy was marked as “widely recycled” and have been happily putting this in my council recycling box, thinking I was doing the right thing.  Apparently not!  It seems that the sheer volume of plastic waste produced exceeds recyling capacity in the UK and a lot is shipped abroad with some ending up in illegal plastic dumps and some even being burnt in open fires.  Truly shocking!  So I’m trying to avoid as much single-use plastic as possible from now on whether or not it can in theory be recycled.

Having started doing that I thought I should try to get my own house in order at Mark Sunderland Photography as I produce a small range of paper products (calendars, postcards and greetings cards).  I try to re-use as much packaging as I can along the supply chain, but I’m sure there’s more I could do – so I’m setting out here the current set-up for each product and some changes I’m making, along with a few questions so I’d be grateful for any feedback you can give me!


My range of calendars is printed for me by The Calendar Company, which is a carbon capture company (see www.woodlandcarbon.co.uk).  The calendars are printed on a Xerox press using EA toner which produces very little non-recyclable waste on carbon captured paper.  So far so good!

2020 Calendar Range
2020 Calendar Range

The calendars do come in a “cello bag” but this is recyclable, so it’s not true cellophane (which is made from cellulose and isn’t recyclable – but is biodegradable) but a form of plastic (Orientated Polypropylene or OPP).  I’d prefer not to be using this for the reasons outlined above but that’s how they’re delivered to me at present and I think it’s how most of my retail outlets want them – at the moment.

Apart from that, the calendars are delivered to me in cardboard boxes and there’s no bubble wrap – any filler in the boxes is generally the paper wrappers from the Calendar Company’s paper supplier, which is great!  I re-use both of these in my deliveries to retailers – so the wrappers from the paper supplier are being re-used twice and can then be recycled (I hope!).

For the calendars I ship from my website these go out in all-board envelopes (no plastic mailers).  I suppose these could potentially go without the cello bag, if it were possible to order them that way – but this increases the risk of water damage in transit.  Please let me know what you think in the comments below!


My postcards are just paper products (again from the Calendar Company) and are easily recycled.  These are delivered to me in cardboard boxes but in blocks of several hundred cards in plastic bags.  I cut the flaps off some of the boxes to make 4 x A6 compartments in each box and use these to store the postcards.  I reuse the plastic bags and remaining boxes for deliveries to retail outlets.  I’m not sure what improvements I can make here!  But I can ask if there’s a way of avoiding the plastic bags…

Greetings Cards

My range of local greetings cards to complement my calendars are also printed for me by The Calendar Company.  These come folded with envelopes and can come in “cello” bags (OPP), which my retail outlets currently choose.

Crescent Gardens at Harrogate
Crescent Gardens at Harrogate

However, more and more card suppliers are dropping cello bags and I see that some retailers are already displaying folded cards with envelopes in card racks without cello bags – so I’m going to switch to supplying cards without cello bags as default but I’ll still offer cello bags to retailers that request them for the time being, and see how this goes for the rest of this year.

For orders from my website I’ll ship my local greetings cards without cello bags from now on, and I’ve just updated the website to that effect.  Wherever possible I’ll re-use packaging for posting out postcard and card orders, or use all-board mailers if I can’t do this.

Litho Cards

I also have an older range of litho printed greetings cards of Yorkshire landscapes.  These came direct from the manufacturer “retail-ready” in cello bags so there’s not much I can do about these – though I won’t be reprinting them and I’ll add the popular designs to the digitally printed greetings cards above as they go out of stock, so they’ll be available without cello bags when this happens.

So that’s my current status – with a couple of improvements.  If you’ve got any suggestions for further improvements then please let me know in the comments!

About marksunderland

Mark Sunderland is a retired landscape and travel photographer still taking the occasional photograph! For image licensing and prints see linktr.ee/marksunderland.

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