In which Stella gets back in her (cardboard) box.


It's a favourite bug bear of mine, perhaps second only to misleading labels on Natural products. Packaging annoys me hugely, because despite my sustainable, ethical core values, I'm forever tempted to put my products into shinier, sexier, more eye catching packaging.

I'm tempted because I know that I myself, as an all too fallible consumer, am impressed by a beautiful box or an eye catching piece of ribbon. Tempted because as a retailer I know that the package creates that critical first impression a customer gets of one's product - and that's a hugely important moment in capturing someone's interest - whether we admit it or not, we tend to judge a book by it's cover.

So an ongoing internal conflict rages in my head.

On one side is Stella the marketeer with her hair beautifully coiffured, wearing a darling 40's style cashmere twin set, constantly whispering about how beautiful a competitors boxes are and that even though we know Stella's products are superior they don't appear to be because of that shiny ribbon that's just so perfect. So why don't we just beautiful would our logo look embossed in silver plastic on black shiny cardboard?

Then there's Stella the concerned ethical producer, make-up-less, in her recycled hemp frock and cardboard slippers, who pouts and talks about how there's no way that she could be associated with such wanton abuse of the planets scarce resources and actually we use far too much packaging as it is: We should be making our own cardboard out of grass clippings from the garden and not give in to the constant need of people to put things in boxes.

And then there's me, the grown up, and the owner of a business. Stood in the middle, with these alter egos on each shoulder, each a part of me: I try to do the right thing by both of them, with the result that neither is happy.

I know my product would sell more units if I had a sexier box or bag. I also know that to produce that box would require more industrial processing and, realistically cost me more money. On the other hand, I know that my cardboard boxes are 100% recycled and 100% recyclable, that my cardboard 'straw' (for volume or protection in shipping) is likewise. And, despite marketeer Stella's desire for silver on black, I think that with the correct attention to detail, there is something simple and beautiful about the appearance of unadorned cardboard.

I know that I make a conscious choice at each part of the production process to pick the least impactful packaging I can and that I actively review this as I go (gift boxes with plastic 'windows' are not being replaced once I have used up my stock, for example). But I also know I have just bought some delightful ribbon for Christmas gift sets that they don't need but which looks gorgeous.

So, the temptation remains, even though I know that I would be hypocritical in the extreme to praise the ethical and natural characteristics of my brand, and then wrap them in plastic, or plastic treated cardboard before putting them into a shiny plastic bag.

But, there is hope for reconciliation between my warring Stella's - as consumers we are increasingly concerned about how our products are packaged and the impact it may be having on the environment. We are demanding that our producers use less, or increase the recyclability of that packaging. On balance, I know I am on the right side of that particular argument - even if (sorry ethical producer Stella) I will probably never make my own cardboard.

Love, Stella xx

Stella Says uses recycled and 100% recyclable and compostable, packaging across all ranges.

Stella is developing a means by which buyers of candles can request refills of their existing container.

Stella is phasing out her use of metal gift boxes with plastic 'windows' and replacing them with 100% recycled, compostable cardboard, because they're more sustainable and frankly, they look just as pretty.

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