Our intent is to constantly improve the sustainability of what we offer you at Sea Soul Blessings, finding ways to support the sea as the sea supports us all.
We donate 10% of our income from each sale to environmental causes. Ultimately, we’re working towards a position where we can ultimately donate 50% of net profits to environmental causes. Read on below for more specific details of this.
What does sustainability mean to us?
Sea Soul Blessings is a small family-run business, run by Pippa Best from home (where two children are also running wild a lot of the time) in Cornwall, UK.
As a family, we try to improve the sustainability of our own lives day by day, and we’re learning new ways to do that all the time.
We recycle, reuse, recreate, sew things back together, try to avoid single use plastic, shop local and organic where we can, beach clean regularly – and are extremely lucky to be able to spend lots of time in nature with family and friends, making it easy for us to remember why doing all this matters so much.
I started Sea Soul Blessings in October 2018 with a beautiful vision, lots of hope and a dollop of vulnerable courage, but very limited experience of print, manufacture, assembly and product delivery. The initial intention, with limited resources, was simply to test the idea, choosing printing, publishing and packaging from companies with good eco-credentials as far as I understood this at the time. Where possible, I wanted to do so locally, avoiding additional transportation.
But the more I learn about true sustainability, the more confusing and complex it becomes.
Because of course, it isn’t as simple as using recycled paper boxes, reusable bags and eco-friendly jiffy bags…
So please bear with us as we continue to grow and learn all we can about the best ways to build a sustainable production-based business.
So here’s where we are with the first iteration of Sea Soul Blessings:
THE GOOD STUFF
The Sea Soul Blessings boxes and bag: Our extensive ‘road-tests’ (you lovely people using the cards) have proven that the box and bag are both durable and reusable, and nearly all of you choose to keep your cards and book in these – in particular, their small size makes them easily portable, using limited resources to do the job! Our boxes come from the Tiny Box Company, and are made of 40% recycled boxboard.
The Sea Soul Blessing cards: These are currently printed by Moo on paper stock sourced from sustainable forests, and are ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free), which prevents harmful emissions, minimising the environmental impact of the paper bleaching process.
The Sea Soul Blessing mini-books: Printed by a local supplier (I can walk to collect them) on Forest Stewardship Council paper sheet, the printers tell us that their printer toner also has no negative environmental impact. These are the smallest card-accompanying books we’ve ever seen, so again, we’re minimising our use of valuable resources to deliver a great product – but they may test your eyes a little!
Sea Soul Insights, Sea Soul Sessions, the digital version of the Sea Soul Blessings mini-book: These are all delivered digitally, which means that there are no negative production, printing, resource or delivery impacts on the environment. I do however use wifi and a reconditioned recycled computer…
Sea Soul Cuffs: These are handmade locally for us by an awesome mum supporting her family (much like Pippa!) at Stuff Made From Things and are made from stainless steel using hand tools that are over 100 years old.
They come packaged in cotton fill inserts manufactured from industrial polyester waste which is recycled, and can be recycled (if your local facility can’t recycle them, the Tiny Box Company will do that for you). Should you tire of your sea soul cuff, and not have a fellow sea soul to pass it on to, stainless steel is recyclable.
Delivery: We now use ‘green’ jiffy bags for all UK deliveries: made with 100% recycled paper fibre lining, they are fully recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable.
THE NOT SO GOOD STUFF
The Sea Soul Blessings boxes: The boxes and Sea Soul Blessing cards are both recyclable – but only if you remove the plastic laminate that strengthens and protects them, and this laminate is not biodegradable.
These boxes are also currently supplied to us with a non-recyclable ‘velvet’ insert that we remove and pass on to others who can make use of it (like jewellers), but it’s pretty likely that their re-use stops there.
The Sea Soul Blessings bags: The bags are made of non-organic material (which means that at least no silk worms are harmed to make them) but they are not recyclable or biodegradable.
You can however find lots of great ideas about how to reuse bags like this over at Raw Botanicals.
The Sea Soul Blessing cards and mini-book: Like the box, the cards are coated with a non-biodegradable laminate – this makes them more durable than other small cards (and again – they are smaller than most packs of cards), but it’s also non-recyclable.
Moo don’t currently use their most eco-friendly paper stocks for this product, and neither the cards nor book are printed with vegetable or recyclable ink.
Delivery: While some elements of our products are sourced locally, others come from further afield – generating environmental transportation costs. Your international packages will arrive in an occasional non-eco envelope until our first stock of these runs out – because they are lighter.
We’re a business in the early stages, looking to grow sustainably, while ensuring our products are priced well, beautiful, functional and easy to use. We are a work in progress.
These are some of the key questions we are asking as we move forward:
- Product packaging: can we source durable sturdy boxes made of recycled paper and without plastic, supplied without any insert? Or find an alternative form of packaging that works?
- Can our cards be printed naturally, and use a biodegradable laminate that ensures their durability (but not for thousands of years)?
- Can we find more sustainable packaging options?
- Is there an alternative recycled metal we might use for our cuffs?
- What more can we do to find the best ways to purchase and distribute, and utilise the most sustainable delivery routes? While transportation is always going to be a challenge for any product-based company, we want to improve on this.
And perhaps the biggest one:
- As Sea Soul Blessings grows, how can we best give back to nature?
What do we donate?
Well, here’s our current answer to the last question – we do this by donating 10% of our purchase price directly to environmental causes from every sale. Every month, we make a decision about which cause to donate to this month.
From 16 September to 31 October 2019, 10% of the purchase price will be donated to Surfers Against Sewage, a national charity based in Cornwall, who inspire, unite and empower communities to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife.
We’re donating via Work for Good – so you can find us over there too.
Here’s how that 10% breaks down per product at the moment.
(These may seem like small sums, but they are a significant donation for a business of our size – and the more we sell, the bigger our donation will be…!)
Sea Soul Blessings box set: £2.10
Sea Soul Cuff: £1.75
Sea Soul Blessings book (digital): 50p
Sea Soul Postcards (per set of 5): 68p
Sea Soul Blessings book (hard copy): 60p
Sea Soul Insight (as this service is paid for by donation, we can’t give a fixed sum here, but we will donate 10% of your donation to us)
Sea Soul Session: £2.80, Set of three sessions: £7.20
This is our minimum donation at this stage of our growth (when we don’t actually have any net profits, yet…!).
We’re absolutely intending to donate more as we grow – and we’re incredibly grateful for your support as we do that. We want to help to protect the sea for generations to come.
We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions – you can contact us here. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
“We each have within ourselves the ability to shape our own destinies. That much we understand. But, more important, each of us has an equal ability to shape the destiny of the universe.
Ah, that you find more difficult to believe. But I tell you it is so. You do not have to be the leader of the Council. You do not have to be king or monarch or the head of a clan to have a significant impact on the world around you.
In the vastness of the ocean, is any drop of water greater than another?
No, you answer, and neither has a single drop the ability to cause a tidal wave.
But, I argue, if a single drop falls into the ocean, it creates ripples. And these ripples spread. And perhaps – who knows – these ripples may grow and swell and eventually break foaming upon the shore.
Like a drop in the vast ocean, each of us causes ripples as we move through our lives. The effects of whatever we do – insignificant as it may seem – spread out beyond us.
We may never know what far-reaching impact even the simplest action might have on our fellow mortals. Thus we need to be conscious, all of the time, of our place in the ocean, of our place in the world, of our place among our fellow creatures.
For if enough of us join forces, we can swell the tide of events – for good or for evil.”
Margaret Weis (The Seventh Gate)