Unaroo vs Plastics

Unaroo vs Plastics

Every year, April 22nd marks Earth Day. In 2024, the theme for Earth Day is 'Planet vs Plastics'. From the beginning, Unaroo Designs has been committed to being as earth-friendly as possible, so what better time to take a closer look at how we reduce our plastic usage? From our tissue paper and business cards to our mailers and labels, read on to learn more as we take you step by step through our yarn's journey with us.

Cable Ties

Our trusty reusable cable ties are the unsung heroes of our dye process. These durable gems have been going strong since I bought them in November 2021 - yup, they predate Unaroo! I am not sure I have had to dispose of a single one over the last 2.5 years thanks to their sturdy and reusable nature.

If these cable ties are plastic, why do I use them?

Every skein of yarn that goes into the dye pan has one, or sometimes more, cable tie attached. These humble ties prevent the yarn from tangling and help me safely remove the dyed wool from the pans. The wool is then hung to cool and dry by these cable ties.

Alternative Cable Ties

Although biodegradable cable ties exist, they currently take around two years to do so in good conditions. I have also processed thousands of skeins of yarn using my current cable ties - imagine how many biodegradable ties I would have gone through by now! Other options are available, but for now, I will continue using my reusable cable ties as many times as possible.

Labels

Once the wool has been dyed and dried, it is time for a label. Our labels are printed in the UK on recycled paper and are both recyclable and biodegradable.

Label Paper

The label paper uses FSC-certified recycled fibres and renewable energy, and does not use optical bleaching agents. The World Land Trust offset the carbon produced by creating this uncoated paper.

More About Our Labels

And the eco-friendly ink uses toner made partly from plant-based biomass. I also attach each label using scrap yarn, usually leftover ends from cones of wool. Sustainable Print produces our labels. They also print our stickers and the banners you see on our stall at shows.

Packaging

Once an order comes in, it's time to pack the wool. Each skein is wrapped in two layers of tissue paper and secured with a sticker. Every order includes a handwritten note.

Tissue Paper

Both our ivory and pink tissue paper use recycled fibres and are made in Britain. Each sheet of acid-free tissue paper is recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable. The tissue paper is from eco-craft Ltd, which is also where we source our mailing boxes.

Stickers

We use two styles of stickers - one for each wrapped skein and one to secure our mailers. Both are printed the same way. The recyclable and biodegradable stickers are laser printed on uncoated paper in Kent by Sustainable Print.

Thank You Cards

Our thank you cards use recycled paper made from 100% post-consumer waste. We are still working our way through the cards we printed in November 2021 so, despite featuring our old Etsy web address, these are still the cards we use to prevent unnecessary waste. These cards, as well as our business cards (on the same paper), were printed by VistaPrint.

Let's talk about VistaPrint

I don't imagine you starting reading this blog expecting to see this company get a mention! As mentioned above, we still use the same batch of thank you cards (and business cards) now that we did for our very first order.

Will I use VistaPrint again?

No. But I bought these cards as a newbie to the business world and did the best that I could with what I knew. Despite our thank you cards and business cards featuring our old Etsy site, we will continue using them until we run out.

Mailers & Postage

Your yarn might arrive in a box or a mailing bag, depending on the order size.

Mailing Boxes

Our boxes are made in the UK using FSC-certified material that is at least 70% recycled content. They are recyclable, biodegradable, and, if you are a box gremlin-like me, reusable. The boxes are from eco-craft Ltd.

Mailing Sacks

Our mailing bags are recyclable, compostable, and reusable. They are from Simplelifeco., a certified B corp based in Wales.

Shipping Labels

Our compostable shipping labels are made with FSC-certified paper and finished with a non-toxic adhesive. Your address and shipping information are printed using a thermal printer, so no ink or toner cartridges go to waste. These labels are from noissue.

Could we do more?

I hope this blog has given you a better understanding of some of the ways we currently reduce our use of plastic. I am very proud of the fact that our business is single-use plastic free, but there is always more that can be done. For example, I would love a non-plastic alternative to our cable ties when the time comes to replace them, and I will use a local business to print our future cards.

Room for Improvement

A big area, that is more out of my control, is how things are shipped to us. Many items mentioned above are sent in recyclable paper packaging, which is brilliant. However, one of the mills packs our wool in plastic bags. This is a great reminder to contact them and ask if they have plans to change this to a more sustainable alternative!

Back to blog