A sustainable business card and the joy of working with your hands

The quest for a sustainable card has come full circle. To recap, we started with no cards, and then made a self printed card which we had written about here.
Perhaps this reticence to get going and print 200 shiny laminated cards off the first printer we found, came from our days of working in the salt mines. Most folks would empathise with me when I say, that in an eight year period I went through 200 * 7 business cards, from changing jobs, and newer designations.
Each change got in 200 business cards, and while I did my best to insinuate an exchange of cards at every meeting, including friends and relatives, I would still be left with 150 +cards at the end of the year, and somehow facing a re-print.
So when we started Krya, I was determined to be card-less. 4 months of meeting people without cards led to raised eyebrows, and odd questions like if Krya was part time. Apparently the lack of a business card led to the very worst suspicion – that I was a fly by night operator, hanging around coffee bars with a single pack of a brave, new detergent!
So we set forth in January to print our very own shiny business cards. At that time a quick round of calls with printers told us the following:

  • Everyone wanted a large minimum order that made sense for them – about 200
  • No one we talked to was using recycled paper for business cards
  • No one was willing to do an un-laminated card – which we were keen on as explained here.

We decided to print out our own cards. We bought recycled paper sheets and printed them out on our printer and cut them ourselves.
Printing our own cards
Printing our own cards worked well as a first step – we used all our available resources to create them: our own software, the Krya printer, recycled paper of choice and of course our time. This meant we could print as many as we liked, when we liked, and we controlled the number of colours we used on the design – which was in the true Krya spirit, just one.
Printing out our own cards also had an important side benefit – it gave us the joy of working with our own hands, something you sorely miss in a regular office set-up.  I came across  this concept in the Guardian’s review of a book by Michael Crawford called, “The case of working with your hands or why Office Work is bad for us and Fixing things feel good”.
He talks about the virtues of absorption in making and doing a thing which is very rigidly rule governed as indeed are arts and crafts and cooking.
What Michael Crawford said was something I’ve long known, and which now just reaffirmed why I felt so good when I worked with my hands, cutting paper, weeding my garden, or even cooking a simple hummus.
Evolution
With time it was apparent that our business cards needed to evolve some more.
As we were printing the cards ourselves on our printer, we were limited in the thickness of paper we could feed in. The paper we fed, while recycled was not thick enough to withstand the many rigors of a business card, so we found them getting crumpled with time.
The materials vs. the usability debate
One of the debates in sustainability is materials vs. usability.  From a surface point of view, using only recycled materials seem to be the right answer. So a purist would perhaps frown on using a plastic bag while shopping for books per se. But if you add usability and circumstances, perhaps a plastic bag is a better bet when walking home in the rain with some books, than say a cotton bag with you driving back in a gas guzzling car.
In the same vein, using recycled paper to print our business cards was a good decision. But the thickness of recycled paper we used, meant that our card would get crumpled after a few days in someone’s pocket, defeating the very purpose of printing the card in the first place and wasting some perfectly good recycled paper.
Separately together
The first Krya business card design had 2 separate cards for Srini and me.
Krya was born out of a creative partnership between us.
To date, we do not separate our responsibilities within the company, so neither one of us is the Marketing person or the Finance person. Working together helps us do more than what either of us would achieve singly, and always helps enrich what we do by bringing in our differences to create a unique product.
So our card also had to echo our creative partnership – that we were individuals, who worked together.
The quest re-begins
Keeping all these new factors in mind, I decided to re-embark on the quest for a sustainable business card last month.
This time I was very happy to explore the joys of an online printing service. I went through several websites until I landed on the Flexi Print website.
To me, the biggest and most magical discovery of our age is the Internet. Through the internet, we have discovered new friends, met new consumers, and yet continue to create inspiring, one on one connections with everyone we meet.
The internet did not fail me in my quest for a sustainable business card either. The sustainability related issues presented by offline printers were magically resolved by the digital printing service.
For starters, most online printing services are willing to digitally print even 100 business cards. You can choose the paper you want to work with, and they are willing to source obscure paper which is generally not available with an offline service. There is also an important DIY or working with your hands component when using an online service – you can design your cards yourself, or choose and customize from a wide variety of surprisingly nice design templates.
The new Krya business card
Our new re-designed business card was now based on the following principles:

  • Special high grade (thickness) un-laminated paper that would be easy to recycle.

Flexi Print recommended using paper from Gruppo Cordenons after we specified our stringent environment principles. Gruppo Cordenons is an Italian paper manufacturer who started making paper in 1630. Their artist inspired series of paper which included Dali and Modigliani were made from elementary chlorine free, wood free primary pulp and was completely recyclable and bio degradable.  The paper that we bought and indeed a lot of their paper is FSC certified.
Gruppo Cordenons had some impressive environmental standards including

  • Being a charter member of the UNESCO “Trust the Forest” program – More than 4000 hectares of virgin African forest has been protected under this programme from deforestation and illegal timbering.
  • More than 80% of their wood pulp comes from ISO 14001 or FSC certified companies to guarantee that their pulp comes from responsibly managed forests.

All their paper is manufactured in an Elemental Chlorine Free environment – (Bleaching in paper that uses the Kraft process, is to remove the lignin from the pulp (which comes from wood). Removing the lignin helps the paper from yellowing in time.)
Elemental Chlorine gas began to be used from the 1930s for this bleaching process. This process produces and releases into the environment a large amount of chlorinated organic compounds including chlorinated dioxins. Dioxins are recognised as a persistent organic pollutant by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, much like Endosulfan which I had blogged about earlier.
Dioxins are highly toxic and suspected carcinogens and have large ranging effects on human health including reproductive, developmental, immune and hormonal problems. Human exposure is through eating meat, dairy and shellfish that are exposed to these dioxins.
Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF technique) was developed as a result of these concerns where chlorine dioxide is used to bleach the wood pulp instead of elemental chlorine gas.
The principles behind our new business card (continued)

  • A two person visiting card to reflect our creative partnership
  • Our visiting cards would carry no designations, just our names, and a whole side would be devoted to what our company does

We want everyone to connect with us as individuals and to what our company does; Designations in my opinion are just a         waste of space.

  • We wanted the printing to be done in a single colour – this option is not available as a standard option in most online printing sites. Which is a pity, because a single colour printing job is one of the most environmentally friendly and pocket friendly decisions you can make!

Having got why we were doing this, Flexi Print was quick to come back with this option for us, and helped us customize our printing with a single colour job.
And here we are
So here is our new 2 person, single colour, un-laminated business card printed on beautiful, ECF free, FSC certified, completely recyclable paper (its right on top set as the featured image in this post, actually).
At this point, you may ask what we now do to continue working with our hands, now that we no longer make our own visiting cards.
I take great pride in my role as the chief Goodie wrapper at Krya. Every single goodie you buy, is carefully and lovingly gift wrapped by me and sent through the courier. The address labels are hand written by Srini.
Happy Diwali to everyone from us!
Un-Disclaimer: We paid Flexiprint to print our business cards.  My review of Flexiprint is independent and un-biased.
You can get in touch with Flexiprint through their website or Facebook page.

0 thoughts on “A sustainable business card and the joy of working with your hands

  1. that was a lot of hard work for making a set of cards. i appreciate the thought behind it to keep it sustainable.
    can i give you an example of a sustainable business card that i found –
    card was cut from the cereal box /used packaging cards and was stamped with the address.

    1. Thank you Anrosh! and thank you for nice little cereal box idea – will keep it mind for a future project!

    1. Thanks a lot for this link Giri – I am a regular reader of EWG, but have missed this report. This made for an interesting read – hopefully we will soon have products from the Krya stable to offer natural, sustainable alternatives to most of these products.

  2. Nice one..so that beautiful hand writing was Srini’s!

    1. Yes Siddhartha! 🙂

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