For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This interview is with Charlotte from Read Wrap Recycle, a recycled and recyclable newspaper designed to be read and then used as wrapping paper. Here she tells us about her brand, products, challenges and work-life balance.
How has working sustainably impacted your non-business life?
Since launching my brand, I feel that I really have to represent my morals more so in my non-business life, as a family we were already adapting to a more sustainable way of life, but now I feel that I am 'practicing what I preach' more than ever and am really becoming a more conscious consumer.
What are you most proud of?
I have completely taught myself to work digitally, so to be able to create a whole newspaper spread, that got printed (correctly!) and that people loved is a moment that I will always remember for sure. The whole project was funded by people backing me on Kickstarter, so to know people have that kind of faith in me and are willing to support me and my ideas is also pretty mind blowing.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to continuously evolve my brand, I want to build a community where people can have discussions freely and come to get answers free of judgement. I think in terms of products I am very much at the beginning of my journey as I have so many ideas for papers I have yet to explore, as well as continuing to develop a card range and other celebration related ideas.
Can you recommend any other makers or businesses that work in an ethical or sustainable way?
I love the work of Wyatt and Jack, but of course you know them already. I'm impressed by the work of LorelaiLQ who abandoned her successful jewellery brand to concentrate on repurposing plastics instead to make gorgeous pieces.
Have you got a particular cause or issue that you would like to raise awareness of?
Each year 50,000 trees are cut down for wrapping paper, a product that is essentially designed to be thrown away. To me this strikes me as incredibly wasteful, especially as we then treat this gift wrap with glitter, foil, etc. meaning it can't even be recycled once we're through with it. In this current age where we are more educated than ever about our impact on the environment, it feels completely unnecessary.
What is the most challenging thing about the materials that you work with?
Using traditional printing processes does mean the paper does look and feel exactly like a newspaper, the downside of this is that some ink transference may occur which is an issue, at present it is simply not cost effective to use digital printing on recycled stock but it's certainly something I'm working on.
Take me on an imaginary tour of your workspace.
I still work in the corner of my living room and pack orders on my dining room table, this is definitely something I would like to change in the future, storage of the papers is definitely an issue. Thankfully I have a very understanding husband!
Do you have a motto or quote that defines your practice?
Made in the UK using recycled and FSC grade paper where possible! At present, the only non recycled product we stock is the paper tape, but its not something I've been able to source as yet, it is made in the UK however on FSC paper, and it's still so much better than the plastic alternatives!
Do you have any advice for people trying to shop more ethically?
Consider how well the item will be used, don't buy things because you feel you have to. Also, look at where the product has been made, is it in the UK or sourced from abroad because those air miles do clock up!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Juggling around school pick ups and drop offs, I quit my teaching job to do this full time and after school be present for my daughters, something I wholly appreciate and make the most of. So after school drop off I might go for a run (it's great for my mental health and often when inspiration strikes) and then I'll work on my illustration business or I'll be working on packing orders or promotion of RWR and the paper. Once the girls go to bed, I usually sit and design new content, chat to other makers and doodle my evening away. I've slowed down the pace since September and stopped pushing myself, the difference this has made to my mental health is monumental.
What’s your favourite thing to do with your free time and why?
I love to spend days off with my family, we usually spend a Sunday together exploring our local National Trust venues, we just love to wander around the gardens and explore, my girls usually come home with a stack of leaves, some twigs and maybe an acorn or conker! (my husband is in retail so Saturdays he works)
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Don't worry about what everyone else is doing, you be you, because that's the best person you can be!
What would be the top thing that you would change about the way we treat the planet if you could?
Over consumption of fast fashion and meat, if people consumed less of these and were less greedy the world would be a better place!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I set myself a goal of not buying any new clothing this year and so far I've succeeded, I plan to continue into 2021 as the lack of socialisation has allowed me to cheat somewhat!
Photographs by @readwraprecycle