One of several stories that can be called “The Greening of my Mudra Card Deck” is not about the cards at all, but the packaging of the cards.
You think packaging sounds BORING?
Okay, so did I a few weeks ago.
Today, I feel as if I’ve graduated from “Green Packaging University”.
I haven’t lost my mind.
I won’t be standing around at cocktail parties chatting up yawning victims (politely listening people) about sustainable packaging, but I do now understand a lot more about why the principles of green packaging needed my consideration, and why I’m briefly going to talk to you about it as well.
Before you start to skim this email to avoid this explanation– or heaven-forbid, click away entirely– know that I’ll attempt to keep you awake for this explanation by arousing your undeniable sense of good taste as well as your common sense and kindness.
Every single product in the world comes with packaging, as you know.
And the packaging’s not usually just one box but a lot of other stuff that goes inside the box to protect the product while it’s getting thrown on and off mail trucks/ cargo planes and shoved around in customs from one country to the next, as you know.
99% of that packaging is non-recyclable and most of it is extremely toxic, as you know.
You also likely know and have regretfully done the following…
— Gleefully slit a box open with a blade or scissors.
— Dug your happy hands down into layers of packaging whatnot up to your armpits.
— To finally put your hand on the prize– your beautiful purchase– which you lift out of the mucky whatnot.
— You feast your hungry eyes upon your prize.
— Then you threw all but that prize somewhere out of sight to wait for a truck to take it off to the landfill.
(If you reuse all your packaging, you are more magic than me. I try though.)
(I’m not going to talk about the environmental damage done in the creation of plastic, styrofoam and other common forms of packaging except to say that researching this topic made my brain hurt and my eyes wet, puffy and red. I thought I already knew but what I learned was that I DID NOT WANT TO KNOW.)
Back to the cards themselves…
I spent a lot of time on the simple design of this deck. I might talk about other design elements in future emails– such as why I chose to make the cards black-and-white.
For now, I want to talk about the minimal presentation.
One early idea had been to find an illustrator to draw the mudras surrounded by imagery that conveyed the symbolic meaning and uses of the mudra. But, paying a good illustrator what their creations are really worth would be very expensive and the process would be time-consuming.
Most importantly, the mudras have their own visual power. They are gorgeous, in fact.
And their undeniable beauty is not merely skin deep.
That visual power often conveys other powers of the mudra– the therapeutic, philosophical, meditative, spiritual and/or practical power. You can often look at a mudra and instantly know what it’s for.
Why complicate things? Just let the mudras shine and tell their own story. So a simple, minimalist design it was.
Once I had a simple design I liked, I consulted other designers to help me simplify even further.
So grateful for the lessons I learned from these talented artists, namely, that the simpler the design, the more time needed to create said design– just as a short (concise) letter takes more time to write than a longer, wordy one.
One designer-friend shared her design simplification suggestions and then followed up with questions about how I was going to package the cards for their longterm safekeeping as well as how they’d be packaged for mailing.
“UM, I dunno.” I shrugged.
I’d been looking at the most beautiful tarot decks ever made, in hopes of gleaning a secret or two about good card design.
I had also filed through dozens of printer websites to find a printer who would bother with small batch printing, which is all I could afford.
And with any time I had left, I promoted the deck and raised a little cash by inviting my awesome customers to pre-order their decks.
Up to that point, not a single thought about how I’d mail the decks had danced across my mindscreen.
My designer friend: “Well, how does the printer protect them for shipping?”
Me (shrugging and shrinking) : “Uh, the only free option is shrink-wrapping?”
My designer friend: “Uh, not an option. Shrink-wrapping is ugly, environmentally HELLISH and non-recyclable.”
This was how I entered Green Packaging Kindergarten.
Of course I knew shrink-wrap was bad, but I’d never had to choose to shrink-wrap something I’d created. Huge difference.
Then there was the issue of how the customer would protect the cards in the long run, what the cards would be tucked away in after each use.
Again, I shrugged.
The card-printing factory offered numerous longterm storage choices, none of which would work: flimsy, plastic-coated cardboard boxes that weren’t worth the money because they quickly got bent out of shape and fell to pieces. Another choice was solid plastic boxes that were durable but….yuck.
I realized that so much love had been put into the deck– my love plus that of others who had freely given their time, ideas and advice and the financial-funding love of the nice people who had pre-ordered their decks. Clearly, everything associated with The Secret Life of the Body Mudra Card Deck needed to be loving as well– even the packaging.
So, nearly every day for the past couple of weeks, the mailman has rung my doorbell with another box of materials that I’ve considered as longterm protection for the cards when not in use.
Everything from white butcher paper…
to Kraft cardboard jewelry gift boxes…
to crushed black velvet fabric.
In the end, we chose unbleached cotton muslin pouches with nice, durable drawstrings that could withstand lots of tying and untying.
Green, minimalist, classic.
And if the customer already has a special container that they like better as a house for their cards, they’re still likely to use for the muslin pouch for something else.
We also purchased blank cards to “bookend” each deck for extra layers of protection.
As for packaging for mailing, well, like I just said, lots of packages have arrived at my house recently. I’m talking about the packaging that contained the butcher paper, jewelry boxes, velvet and muslin pouches. So, we’ll reuse all of the mail packaging we can.
More about the cards and other helpful materials they come with:
40 cards in the deck + 2 extra blank cards to “bookend” the printed cards for protection
The actual cards in the deck are as GREEN as currently possible in the industry. (Less paper used per card, lowest amount of plastic coating (for waterproofing) available
a bi-fold information “booklet” printed on material similar to the cards
Each deck comes with a muslin drawstring pouch for safekeeping.
You’ll also have access to an online database with more information about each mudra including the translation of the Sanskrit name, more details about how to hold the mudra safely and effectively and other interesting information about each mudra.
The first decks– those pre-ordered in March and early April– will ship out in just a few days once packaging is complete. These additional green-hearted steps take time as I have no green-hearted elves. Or elves of any kind. (-;