Tag: wrapped by alice

ball of hemp cord and pair of scissors

Hemp: The Eco-Friendly Choice

Hemp, The Eco-Friendly Choice

You might have noticed that I’ve added some new hemp cords to the website this year.

In fact, I’ve always used hemp cord in my gift wrap sets. And, since last year, I have offered the option for all of my gift tags to be threaded with hemp cord too.

Hemptique Hemp Cord set - Emerald, next to a present wrapped in Wrapped By Alice paper and tied with cord from the set.

So, Why Hemp?

Why, you might ask, when there are so many natural cord and twine options available, have I plumped for hemp? Why not cotton baker’s twine, or jute twine?

The answer is simple – hemp is the most eco-friendly natural fibre around, and it also happens to produce the highest quality cord on the market.

Indeed, many other natural fibres – such as cotton – are actually harmful to the environment. It seems we have developed a tendency to treat the word, ‘natural’, as though it is interchangeable with, ‘eco-friendly’. However, this is often times not the case.

Businesses, in particular, bear a big responsibility for pushing the narrative that just because a product is natural, it is also kind to the environment. In the best case, this sort of marketing is a product of laziness, and a lack of research, and in the worst, it is simply profiting off a deliberate lie.

However, I’m here to say that, hemp has the credentials to back-up its eco-friendly status. Let’s take a look at the ways in which hemp is good for the environment.

image of hemp plant growing

 

The Eco-Friendly Benefits of Hemp

Water Requirements

Growing hemp requires less than a third of the water needed to grow cotton, and produces 220% more fibres – it’s a win-win.

water being poured into a metal bucket

Pesticides

Nearly all varieties of hemp are naturally resistant to pests, which means that pesticides need only be used sparingly, if at all. This means far less chemicals are being leached into the soil and waterways. It also means that hemp plantations provide safe habitats for pollinators, birds and small mammals.

 

Herbicides

Hemp grows rapidly; quickly covering the ground and leaving little to no room for weeds to grow. This rapid ground cover means that herbicides are not needed, which again prevents contamination of soil and waterways.

 

Soil Quality

Hemp is also great for soil quality. Not only does it have deep root systems, which stabilise the soil, it also requires very little nutrients or fertilizer to grow. Moreover, it puts a great deal of nutrients back into the soil, through decomposition of its leaves, once they fall.

hands holding soil

 

Carbon Emissions

Hemp production results in lower amounts of carbon emissions, when compared to other natural fibres, such as cotton. Meanwhile, the plant itself, with its bountiful lush green leaves, captures large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scientists estimate that for every ton of hemp grown, 1.63 tons of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere.

 

Hemptique Hemp Cords

You might have noticed that all my hemp cords are from the same company – Hemptique.

I have chosen to work with Hemptique for two reasons – their dedication to being an eco-friendly business, and the quality of the products they produce.

 

 

Eco-Friendly Materials

Hemptique is committed to using materials that are kind to the environment. Of course, there is the fair trade hemp, which they use to produce their cords. But they also ensure that the other materials in their manufacturing process are eco-friendly too.

For example, if you purchase one of the colourful hemp cord sets available on my site, you can rest assured that Hemptique have used only premium-quality, fibre-reactive, AZO-free dyes, to produce the vibrant colours featured. These are the most environmentally-friendly, man-made dyes available.

Another example, is the corn and potato starch mixture which Hemptique use to polish their cords. This mix is used in favour of alternatives, such as wax or chemicals, as it makes the cord more easily biodegradable.

lots of wooden spools

 

High-Quality Cords

It’s also worth noting that Hemptique produce cords not twines. What’s the difference? I hear you ask! Well, it’s a matter of quality – twines are made using fewer strands of fibre than cords, and may be uneven in thickness and have fly-aways. Cords, on the other hand, are round and even, without any loose fibres, and are also incredibly strong. Even the thinnest cord that I offer – at just 0.5mm in thickness – can hold up to 4.5kg / 10lb in weight! This property means that it can be reused many times.

 

The Best Choice for Gift Wrapping

Hemp cords provide the perfect gift wrapping alternative, not only to ribbon, but also to some seemingly eco-friendly alternatives, such as baker’s twine.

Combine hemp cord with my recycled papers, and recyclable tape, and you have the ultimate eco-friendly gift wrapping experience!

hemp cord - autumn nights set, with gift behind tied with grey hemp cord from the set.

Let’s hear it for hemp!

Rainbow reflected in the palm of a hand.

Wrapped By Alice During the Covid-19 Crisis.

The Effect of Covid-19 on Wrapped By Alice

As you may have noticed if you’ve been on the site, my shop has been closed for business since the start of lockdown here in the UK, all the way back in March! This is because, as well as being a printer of eco-friendly wrapping paper, and a lover of dogs, I am also the owner of a suppressed immune system – the latter I tend to shout about a little less than the first two!

It’s this faulty immune system that landed me in the ‘extremely vulnerable category’, and has kept me at home for the past four months; shielding from basically everyone and everything, including my business, and you, my lovely customers!

Up till now shielding, has made running Wrapped By Alice basically impossible, as the Covid-19 guidance is so strict; stopping me from having interaction with anyone other than my partner, Kenny, and my stepdaughter, Yasmin. So, we’ve been making our own entertainment (and biscuits!) at home.

 

Yasmin with her giant butterfly cookie.

While shielding has presented one obstacle to running the business, the other has been the toll that lockdown, in and of itself, has taken on my health. We’ve all had our lives turned upside down recently, and I think most people have felt challenged by that to some degree. But when the structure of your life is built around managing your health, and then that structure suddenly crumbles around you, it’s bound to have ramifications.

Pre-lockdown I had a very quiet, largely solitary life, where I worked my business and household responsibilities around my health. Then lockdown hit, and overnight, me, Kenny and Yasmin began sharing our space 24/7. Whilst the energy I would normally prioritise for the business was redirected to Yasmin – making sure she was happy and entertained and keeping up with her school work.

At times during lockdown, I have felt like I’ve lost much of what makes me who I am – no longer independent, but rather relying on Kenny for everything; not able to run the business, and too tired to be creative. The times where I was too ill to even help with looking after Yasmin were particualrly hard.

But I am nothing if not resilient (and at times, plain obstinate!) and I feel like I am starting to settle into my new role, and thankfully even have a little left over energy for business planning. Once shielding ends, I’ll be looking after Yasmin until she goes back to school in September. But once she’s back and settled in, I will be reopening; so, like the Terminator, I will be back! 😆 I’ll keep you all posted as to progress! Stay safe my friends x x

recyclable wrapping paper. Rolled sheets of wrapped by alice paper, with pugs, frenchies and cats.

Can You Recycle Wrapping Paper?

Can Your Recycle Wrapping Paper?

The short answer to the question, ‘can you recycle wrapping paper’, is, ‘yes’!

However, the long answer is rather more complicated. Here are some tips to help you decide whether or not you can recycle your wrapping paper.

Did You Buy Your Wrapping Paper From Wrapped By Alice?

Now, here is where it’s really simple; if you bought your paper from me, then you can recycle it – all my papers are 100% recyclable. Just pop it in with your other paper and card recycling; job done!

recycled wrapping paper on shelving

What Are Other Wrapping Papers Actually Made From?

Often, wrapping paper hides additional substances, such as plastic and metallic particles – I’m looking at you glitter and foil! Any wrapping paper which is glittery or foiled is a mixed product and can therefore not be recycled. The same applies to glossy, laminated wrapping papers, as their sheen is created by coating the paper with a plastic film. Heavily dyed papers are also not recyclable, as they leach their colour during the pulping process.

You’re pretty sure your gift wrap passes all the above tests, and is just paper – plain and simple? Off to the recycling bin you go…but wait; it still might not be recyclable. Thin, poor quality wrapping paper (you know the type a lot of places sell very cheaply, on long rolls) is probably not suitable for recycling. This is because, although paper can be recycled numerous times (generally, up to 7 times), in order for it to be suitable it has to contain a high number of long, quality fibres; something which these cheaper papers do not.

All my wrapping papers are made from high quality, recycled, uncoated and undyed paper stocks, so you won’t face any of these barriers to recycling.

The ‘Scrunch Test’

If all this information is a bit overwhelming, and you don’t know what the hell your wrapping paper is made of, then the simple ‘scrunch test’ is probably your best bet – scrunch your wrapping paper in your hand; does it stay scrunched up? If it does, then it can more than likely be recycled. If it starts to expand back out again, it probably contains plastic and can therefore not be recycled.

Other Sticky Issues

So, we think we’ve finally got to grips with the question of, can you recycle wrapping paper. But now what about all the extras that can come with a gift wrapped present?

drawer full of stickers and gift tags

First off, remove any ribbon or twine – these definitely can’t be recycled with your paper. However, the hemp twine which I include in all my gift wrap sets, can be reused over and over again, and will also naturally biodegrade, so, all is not lost!

So finally, we come to the sticky issue of tape. And this is where it gets really complicated and contradictory – what fun!

Here in the UK we are advised to remove all sticky tape from wrapping paper (and all other paper and card items) before putting them in our recycling; some local authorities even have a blanket ban on wrapping paper, because of this issue.

However, our recycling facilities do have mechanical processes to separate sticky tape from paper and card. As I understand it, it is only a huge amount of tape, e.g. a box almost entirely coated in packing tape, that would cause issues. Therefore, best practice is probably to remove as much plastic tape as you can before putting your paper in the recycling.

What About Paper Tape?

There is a growing trend for using paper tape, rather than the common plastic tapes. I myself offer a range of paper tapes, which are completely recyclable; this means you can leave the tape on your paper and card, and, in theory, it will all be recycled together.

However you might wonder, what is the point of such tapes, if the machinery at recycling centres is designed to separate it out anyway? Surely it won’t be recycled?

Well, firstly, the more commonly used this tape becomes, the more likely it is that the recycling companies will develop machinery that can identify these paper tapes and leave them in the mix to be recycled.

Secondly, my paper tapes are a natural, biodegradable and compostable product. This means that even if they are removed from the recycling chain and placed in land fill, they will at least naturally biodegrade. Compare this to the plastic tape that will sit in landfill for centuries. Equally, if the tape is incinerated, it is better for it to be paper, rather than plastic.

And finally, I think that paper tape is actually a superior product. It is much more durable than plastic tape, and adheres much more successfully to paper and card, especially to the recycled stocks I offer in my shop. The only small gripe I have is that it does tend to curl round on itself if cutting a long length; but I can accept that small issue, given all the other benefits.

In Conclusion

Apologies my friends, for such a complicated answer to the simple question of, can you recycle wrapping paper! But it seems, at least for now, if we’re going to successfully recycle as much as possible, then we need to educate ourselves on how to properly prepare items for recycling.

As an example, my local authority banned Christmas wrapping paper and Christmas cards from recycling collections this past festive season; this was due to the issues mentioned above ( Christmas t’is the season of glitter and sparkle, after all)! However, I knew my paper didn’t contain any of these extras, and so I still placed it in the recycling, defying the ban, because I knew that it could be recycled.

So, arm yourself with as much information as possible, and get recycling, folks!

Wrapped By Alice recycled logo
my workspace. my printing table with cube storage beneath and shelving above

Big Changes Mean Big Challenges: Chronic Illness in Business

Where I Have Been: Moving House and Beyond

Apparently today is National Writing Day, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain where on earth I’ve been for the last 3 months (apologies to the ‘gram, et al!) 

So, I did a rather big thing while I was away…no I didn’t have a baby! But I did buy a house, move into that house with my partner (not only the first time we have lived together, but also the first time I have ever lived with any partner). And, if that weren’t enough, in the process I also became a stepmum (I prefer the title ‘bonus mum’) to my partner’s 5-year-old daughter.

‘Wow, that’s a lot of stuff’, you might be thinking! Well now, just for good measure, add into the mix, the fact that I also have a number of chronic illnesses to contend with, and you may get some sense of the pile of quivering, overwrought jelly I have been for the past 3 months! Overwhelmed doesn’t cut it. Exhausted doesn’t cut it. But I’ve made it through, and am somehow sat in my new workroom, in my new house, telling you all about it, on National Writing Day!

This Is Going To Get Personal: Chronic Illness In Business

This is something of a sea change for me; I never normally share anything about my health; I guess I am a naturally private person, and, furthermore, a stubborn one – I never want to feel that I’m defined by my illness. Not to mention – and I can’t stress this enough – I don’t think that you, or anyone else for that matter, wants to hear me bore on about my ‘daily struggles’!

Nevertheless, it’s true that over the past 5 years, since setting up Wrapped By Alice, I have had to close the business on many occasions, thanks to severe infections (yay), surgery (double yay), or just being plain unable to get out of bed (…you get the idea). I’ve never really offered an explanation as to those absences, and fair enough – that is one of the perks of being your own boss, after all!

But, having said that, I don’t think that I’ve ever been MIA for quite as long as I have this year, and I feel like I want to let you in on a bit of what’s been going on. So, welcome to my new house! It’s been slow progress, but it’s already feeling like home, here are a few of my favourite bits so far…

Home Sweet Home: Pops Of Colour And Personality

Dining table, with placemats from Ebay. His and Hers Billy bookcases from IKEA.
Close up of my bookcase, adorned with lots of ornaments; all gifts from over the years.
Toy chest from IKEA, Lego Star Wars X Wing, DED ass artwork, antique bear (model wears his own sunglasses and space rocket).

However, no part of the house was as painfully slow to complete as my workroom; by this point I was running on absolute empty; I thought I’d only need 4 days to sort my workroom out once all my stuff had been moved over (what an uncomprehending fool I was!) It actually took over 4 weeks! I was desperate to get back to the business, and reclaim a bit of me, but days on end went by where I was too tired or too ill to do anything. And even on those days where I started with high hopes, I could only manage to get done a tenth of what I had planned; it was like wading through treacle… very, very thick, frustrating treacle!

But all in its own time, and with a lot of help from my brilliant family, finally it was done, and now I am writing this at my desk in my brand new workroom, having just recently reopened the business, and it feels so good!

My New Workroom: A Purpose-Designed Space

wardrobe with neatly stacked wrapping paper sheets
My beautiful paper, all stored away neatly, ready to send out to my lovely customers.

Last But Not Least: My Partner In Crime!

Shout out to my fella, for not considering my health problems, when deciding that I was the one for him. I was going to say, ‘he takes it all in his stride’, but that would be a platitude; it would imply that somehow this is easy for him. It is never easy to build your life with a person who has a chronic illness or disability; I mean it’s a hard enough thing to do as it is! But he accepts and supports me; he never makes me feel bad for the things I can’t do, and celebrates with me in all the things that I can do. I guess he’ll do!

me giving a kiss to my handsome fella.
Obligatory soppy photo of me and the boy.
Peony Print, surrounded by real pink peonies

Peonies: Printing My Limited Edition Pink Peony Art Print

My Inspiration

I have to admit to you that I am a little cuckoo about peonies! They’re my favourite flower, and I wait all year in anticipation of their arrival. I’m lucky enough to have two really well established peony plants in my garden, and from May onward I’m pretty much constantly checking on their progress.

Close up of an open pink peony, surrounded by peony buds

A peony in bloom in my garden.

I decided to draw on this love, as the inspiration for a limited edition peony art print. To be honest, I only ever draw what I love, which is why there are so many dog designs in my ranges!

The Creative Process

I began by drawing some simple ink illustrations of peonies in various stages of bloom. From these drawings, I then carved rubber stamps, or block cuts, as they can be called. 

Block carving of a peony, next to original floral sketches

It is these block cuts which I use to create my peony art print.

Flat lay of Wrapped By Alice peony print, showing finished print, with printing tools

Although they are a limited run of just 50, in reality each print is unique in its own right. There’s a couple of reasons for this; firstly, each element has been carved as an individual block cut, rather than being carved as one large piece. Added to this, I don’t choose to use a template when printing, therefore, one-off variations are created between each print. Finally, once I have finished printing, I add in each stem by hand, using watercolours; this adds yet more individuality to each piece.

Peony Print, surrounded by real pink peonies

To find out more about my peony art print, and get your own little piece of peony print perfection, by visiting my listing.

Do It Yourself

If you’d like to have a go at doing your own block print, here are the materials I used to create my Peony art print:

The Speedball Speedy Carve block is made from a really soft rubber, and comes in all different sizes. It’s so easy to work with; just draw or trace your image straight onto the block (remember to reverse your image), then get carving!

The Pfeil cutters are a bit of an investment, as they’re not cheap. However, I have found that they are really worth the price tag! If you just want to have a try first, then you can buy really cheap lino cutters, like this one, but you will find it a lot trickier to carve.

The Versamagic and Versafine ink pads are great, as they come in tiny dew drop sized pads, which cost under £2.00 each! Great for experimenting with colours, and none of the fuss associated with traditional lino printing, where you’d use traditional block printing ink along with a brayer.

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