Steps towards going plastics-free

If I were a contestant on Shark Tank, I'd be laughed off the show. A print magazine? ha! An encyclopedia?! ha! ha! From the perspective of the Sharks, there's nothing to invest in when it comes to UPPERCASE. There's no big franchise, or opportunity to scale because it all comes down to me. My direction, my aesthetics, my decisions.

Many choices I've made over the years have affected the profit potential of my company. There isn't any advertising. I don't do sponsored content. UPPERCASE isn't available in big box stores like Barnes & Noble. I haven't raised subscription prices in 10 years of existence, despite costs going up everywhere else. I use 100% post-consumer recycled paper on the interior pages, which is significantly more expensive. I spend $1.20 per subscription or renewal to plant a tree. I give away Creative Boost subscriptions and complimentary cartons to non-profits. This is my business and these are my choices.

And now I'm looking at a decision that will cost me roughly $4,500 more per issue—getting UPPERCASE plastics-free.

But UPPERCASE is a paper magazine, where's the plastic?

Well, the subscriber copies are mailed in a polybag. Although technically recyclable, it is quite unlikely that the small amount of plastic received by a subscriber is actually recycled either because facilities don't exist, or the relatively tiny amount of plastic for a polybag makes it impossible to deal with in the recycling process. The polybag system is quick and automated, but there aren't any non-plastic eco-alternatives. So I will have to purchase mailers and then pay for the additional manual labour required to pack the magazines into the envelopes.

I've been researching various options: 100% recycled, reusable and recyclable plastic polybags (but still plastic), biodegradable mailers made from compostable corn and wheat straw (but made in China), and various kraft envelopes. It looks like a simple kraft envelope, which is made in North America from 100% recycled material and is also completely recyclable and compostable will be my choice. I'll try it out on the next issue to see how well it works.

Previously, books and magazines sent to our old fulfillment warehouses had to be shrinkwrapped to protect them from dirty hands and indifference. Hopefully, the new fulfillment warehouse will be nicer to our inventory. I am looking into alternative solutions to protect books in storage and transit.

There's also the matter of gloss lamination on the cover of my Encyclopedia series and Little U. The lamination enhances the longevity of the books so I'd like to keep something similar. I'm investigating what bio-degradable options there are. Thankfully, my books and magazines don't end up in landfills because readers treat them with respect. ❤ 

To be honest, I've been feeling very anxious and depressed about the state of the world and our environment. If we're to make a dent in this problem, I believe that more individuals and companies need to get uncomfortable now, rise to the challenge and be willing to spend more. Getting UPPERCASE plastics-free is something that I can do—I'm willing to pay the cost and see it as an investment in our collective future. 

Since this is where my brain space is these days, I thought I'd share behind the scenes of the latest decision I'm making! Perhaps you can make some positive changes in your own daily life.

I think there's one thing that the Sharks couldn't laugh about, and that's my DETERMINATION.

And I hope this is another reason why you'll decide to invest in my business and subscribe, renew or purchase a gift subscription.

Thank you.