Plastic free packaging

This year we are  rapidly shifting to plastic free packaging for all our greeting cards. Two of my main customers in Cornwall, the Eden Project, and the Tate St Ives, have plastic free shops. All the Light on the Sea cards are now supplied in biodegradable, compostable packaging made from corn starch, with envelopes made from recycled paper. The  cellophane (oil based) sleeves  which we used for greeting card packaging are being discontinued, and soon all our greeting cards will be in plastic free sleeves.

In 1950 the  world produced only 2 million tonnes of plastic per year. By 2015, annual production had increased nearly 200-fold, reaching 381 million tonnes, roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population. From 1950 to 2015 a total 7.8 billion tonnes of plastic had been produced, more than one tonne of plastic for every person alive today. Clearly this is completely unsustainable and at last we are starting to wake up to the problem.

Packaging is the dominant sectoral use of plastics globally accounting for 42 percent (146 million tonnes) in 2016. This was followed by construction with 19 percent (65 million tonnes). Since packaging tends to have a much lower product lifetime than other products (such as construction or textiles), it is also dominant in terms of annual waste generation. It is responsible for almost half of global plastic waste. The production of so-called ‘bioplastics’ or biodegradable plastics is currently very low: estimated at around 4 million tonnes per year (which would be just over one percent of global plastics production).

 

Climate strike, Newcastle upon Tyne

On 20 September, thousands of people of all ages gathered in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. They demanded urgent action to combat the climate emergency. It was truly inspirational to see so many young people marching through the heart of the city. Having photographed environmental subjects around the world during the last 30 years, it was wonderful to feel the passion and focus of young people.

At long last the citizens of the world are really waking up to the situation and demanding action from our leaders. Many young people stood up with the microphone and voiced their concerns at the state of the planet. They are angered by the ineffectiveness of governments in addressing the environmental problems facing the world. They spoke with conviction, with passion, and with great clarity.

Sell your business on social media (Business Northumberland)

Yesterday I attended another very helpful half-day course in Hexham, run by Business Northumberland (https://www.businessnorthumberland.co.uk/). This time the subject was selling with social media such as instagram and facebook, and the tutor was Katherine Briggs. There were 16 businesses attending, some of whom were even newer to the social media world than I am, so for the first time, I felt as if I have moved slightly up the ladder of digital marketing knowledge! So in the months ahead there will be some more changes and development to this website, with new products becoming available – mainly new greeting card and designs, and prints.

WordPress workshop, Business Northumberland

Another great session this week in a Business Northumberland workshop on wordpress with John Allan. These fully funded workshops are invaluable in helping small businesses develop their range of skills in many areas asuch as digital marketing. As a relative newcomer to this topic, I now realise how much there is to learn but I hope the benefits will be added to this website in the months ahead. Meanwhile, it’s worth taking a look at https://www.businessnorthumberland.co.uk/ if you want to receive expert advice and tuition for your business development. And they also provide great lunches!

Autumn colours, Northumberland National Park

The lovely autumn colours of 2018 are beginning to fade, as the leaves continue to fall. This is one of my favourite times of the year. The last week of October and the first week of November see the climax of the autumn in Northumberland before the days become ever shorter and the landscape changes into the more subdued colours of winter. This view looks across the North Tyne valley near Bellingham, towards Callerhues Crags, with the Hesleyside woods in the foreground, and is in the 2019 Seasons of Northumberland calendar. I’ve heard rumours of a cold winter ahead and am looking forward to some fine frosty days after this very mild autumn. This weekend I’ll be at the Christmas Fair at The Sill on Hadrian’s Wall, the National Landscape Discovery Centre – hope to see you there!

Hedgehope Hill seen from The Cheviot in winter.

Last winter, just after Christmas, the weather was very clear and cold and so I set off very early for an ascent of The Cheviot on the England-Scotland border. The conditions were truly arctic, with a very cold wind, deep snow drifts, sastrugi (wind sculpted ridges and troughs in the snow, and rime ice all over the fence posts. There was a really magnificent viw of Hedgehope Hill from the summit plateau of Cheviot, which was wreathed in thin, freezing mist. We did not stay long on the summit descended back to the Harthope valley near Langleeford, before the long midwinter night arrived. Thius image is now available as a pack of Christmas cards in the Northumberland Winter series, and is also in the Seasons of Northumberland calendar 2019.

 

 

 

 

Light on the Sea

A new range of greeting cards has just been published, with images from Wset Penwith in Cornwall, Harris in the Outer Hebrides, and the Summer Isles in Ross-shire (north west highlands, Scotland).
They depict the moods of the sea, from gentle waves, to crashing surf, granite cliffs, and light glistening on a calm sea. The locations include spectacular Cornish beaches at Pednvounder and Portchapel, and beautiful Hebridean beaches such as Luskentyre. The cards are 160mm square, blank inside,and are available to order from this website.

In the deep midwinter……….

Just after Christmas I went up The Cheviot with one of my daughters on a very fine winter day. Having seen the snow covered Cheviots from Hadrian’s Wall the day before, and with a very good forecast, we set off early and took about two hours to reach the top from Langleeford in the Harthope valley near Wooler. The conditions were arctic – a strong westerly wind with drifting snow and beautiful wind blown ridges and furrows in the snow, known as sastrugi, commonly seen in cold, polar environments.  The snow was more than thigh deep in places where it had drifted, so quite slow going. The views were spectacular in all directions, looking north into Scotland, eastwards to the coast, and southwards across Northumberland National Park.

Furry Christmas

And now for something completely different….

Every year, our daughters Bronwen and Awena have been making an advent calendar for us, and each year as they progressed through school, the calendars grew more sophisticated as their artistic skills developed. Each year, before they cut the windows for the advent calendar, the design was scanned and then made into  Christmas cards to send to friends. This year, we decided to try them out as published cards, and they have just arrived this week from the printers. In the girls’ own words: “The design of this card is derived from advent calendars which we created every year for our family, depicting the many pets we grew up with over the years, and the wildlife around our home in the heart of Northumberland National Park. Any resemblance to real places is entirely intentional!”

Northumberland International Dark Sky Park

A recent BBC report stated that “A study of pictures of Earth by night has revealed that artificial light is growing brighter and more extensive every year. Between 2012 and 2016, the planet’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by more than 2% per year. Scientists say a “loss of night” in many countries is having negative consequences for “flora, fauna, and human well-being”.

Many people never see the stars properly, or even at all, due to the amount of light pollution in towns and cities across the world. There has also been a surge of interest in the night sky, and this is reflected by the huge popularity of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, the largest area of protected night sky in Europe, covering 572 square miles (1,483 square kilometres). The area was awarded gold status designation in 2013 by the International Dark Sky Association in Tucson, Arizona, the world authority on light pollution. This status means that controls are now  in place to prevent light pollution and to protect the night sky.

This greeting card in the Cherish the Earth series shows the stars over Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland National Park,  with an accompanying quotation by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage and one of the most eminent figures in Tibetan Buddhism: “When we can appreciate beauty, and feel awe and wonder at nature, we have the basis to dedicate ourselves to environmental protection.”    The Karmapa is well known for his interest and commitment to environmental issues, as well as social justice for all.  He frequently highlights the issues in his teachings and life’s work.

There are twelve cards in the series, ranging from honeybees to Himalayan mountains, wildlife to oceans, and there has been a wonderful response since publication. They are also available from the shops at Kagyu Samye Ling, near Eskdalemuir, Scotland, and Kagyu Samye Dzong London.