Susanna Morrish is joint director of The Eco-friendly Card Co (with husband Scott). Here she talks about the company, its beginnings, and its eco credentials
Hall 6 Stand C02
Glebe Cottage Studio, the original name for The Eco-friendly Card Co, was founded by art college student Scott Morrish back in 1993, with the intention of supporting his passion for photography. With a plan that barely scraped a ‘D’ in A-level business studies he obtained a small bank loan sufficient to set up an ’office’ in his bedroom (of his parent’s house – the original Glebe Cottage) and a darkroom in a garden shed.
With the additional support of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust, the first four Glebe Cottage cards were created, featuring images of wild Dartmoor scenes. For the first few years when Scott wasn’t in the darkroom, or wandering the moors with his large-format camera, he drove around rural Devon selling his cards of local views to post offices and shops out of a banana box in the back of a rusty Datsun Sunny car called Bob.
Sue joined the business in 1996 after leaving university with a degree in English and Anthropology and by her own admission, “knowing nothing about running a card business whatsoever”. Soon more designs were added, including artist collections, and they wouldn’t all fit in the back of a car any more!
The publisher has had a long-standing desire to minimise its environmental footprint. With their mutual passion for the environment and wild places featured in Scott’s photography it was personal conviction, rather than current trends, that led them down the environmental route for the business, and it was about this time that Glebe Cottage’s first environmental commitment was born, to only use recycled envelopes with its cards.
“We really wanted to understand the environmental impact of how we published our products, so we spent a long time trying to research everything from the types of inks we used, to the bag we packed the card in. It was understanding the issues that prompted us to create the list of ‘Eco-commitments’ that still determines how we create our products today,” explains Sue.
“I think today I would say our aims are three-fold; firstly to produce beautiful, distinctive cards in an environmentally-responsible way, secondly to collaborate with and promote the work of the wonderful creative artists we work with, and finally to look after our wonderful network of independent retailers.”
Glebe Cottage’s environmental journey started back in the mid-90s when the publisher switched to the exclusive use of 100% recycled envelopes. “The logic was simple; why cut down trees to make envelopes that will only make one journey before they are ripped open, screwed up and thrown away?”
“The logic was simple; why cut down trees to make envelopes that will only make one journey before they are ripped open, screwed up and thrown away?”
The Eco-Friendly Card Co has moved on a long way since then, being the first publisher to switch to compostable packaging back in 2006, and the first direct-to-retail publisher to obtain FSC certification. In 2008, it became the UK’s first CarbonNeutral greetings card company and won Gold for environmental best practice in printing and publishing at the Green Apple Awards. It also scooped top prize in the product category at the BCE Environmental Leadership Awards in 2010, and shortly after that began trading as The Eco-friendly Card Co, instead of Glebe Cottage. In 2021 the publisher started to carbon balance all the paper it uses with The World Land Trust, and backdated that to May 2019 so retailers can be confident that any product they buy has been carbon balanced.
The company certainly does have independent retail at its heart – over two decades it has refused to supply supermarkets, or work with brokerage, citing loyalty to its independent retailer stockists.
The art ranges offered are very diverse, from fine art paintings by the late Michael Morgan RI to whimsical designs by artist Kate Andrew (nominated for best art and sentiment range in last year’s Henries awards).
“People often ask us how we come up with our ranges – everything we do is artist led,’’ says Sue. “Nothing is designed in a studio just for a card, instead every image comes from an original painting or design. Each collection is named after the artist and celebrates their unique style. Our longest-standing artist is Nikky Corker, whose work we have published for over 15 years – we have new designs from her every year, which are eagerly anticipated by her following. Newest is mixed media artist Jane Morgan, whose work was previously only available as fine art prints –Jane’s collection has been shortlisted as best art range in this year’s Henries.
The Eco-friendly Card Co has worked with The Wildlife Trusts for over 10 years, publishing notecards, calendars, greeting cards and Charity Christmas packs – the latter two have also both just been shortlisted in this year’s Henries awards.
“Throughout the past decade we’ve really enjoyed working with The Wildlife Trusts and, more recently, the charity SongBird Survival. Along the way we’ve continued to learn so much about the extraordinary diversity of British wildlife. It’s changed the way we look at the world and how we manage our own garden – which in turn has created brilliant opportunities for more wildlife photography,’’ Sue explains. “The natural world is not only fascinating and beautiful, but is also increasingly understood to contribute to mental and emotional well-being. Maybe this is why we are consistently drawn to wide open images of land and seascapes in one moment, and tightly focused studies of flowers, birds and bees in another. We know wildlife and the habitats it depends upon are precious and often fragile. And it’s that knowledge that holds our focus on consistently trying to find additional ways of reducing our environmental footprint.”
So what’s next for the company? “We’re launching our new photographic brochure at Autumn Fair – the first since Covid – with lots of new photographic designs and including The Wildlife Trust collection,’’ Sue says.
And in a bid to support their independent retail network, Sue says: “Despite the green credentials prices are still very competitive and we have an easy carriage-paid order of just 30 designs in sixes. Stockists can choose between having cards with an easy-peel card clasp label or individually wrapped in compostable bags.’’
- FSC certified
- 100% recycled cards
- 100% recycled envelopes
- Alcohol-free print technology
- Powered by green energy
- Vegetable based inks
- Naked cards or compostable bags
- Free of foil, glitter and plastic-laminate
- Made in the UK
- Carbon balanced paper
- Carbon zero company