Monday, December 12, 2005

Why Candy Canes, Christmas Trees and Mistletoe?

I spent this past Thanksgiving with a friend's family in Bremerton, and while waiting for the ferry I came across a copy of the Kitsap Sun. Thanks to the research that they did I've listed the orginins of Candy Canes, Christmas Trees and Mistletoe below.

"Candy Canes:
According to the National Confectioners Association, in the 17th century, the coirmaster at the cologne Catherdral in Germany gave his young singers sugar sticks to keep them quiety during ceremonies.
In honor of the occasion, he had the candies bent into shepherds' crooks. In 1847, a German-Swedish immigrant decorated a small blue spruce with paper ornaments and candy canes.
By the 1900's, the candy cane got its red and white stripes and peppermint flavors. They were mass produced by the 1950's, eliminating the laborious task of making the treat, and their popularity spread.

Christmas Tree:
Germand would decorate fir trees, inside and out, with roses, apples and colored paper. The tradition hit England and America via the German immigants in Pennsylvania in the 1800's.
Of course, a Christmas tree isn't complete without ornaments. Decorating trees dates back to the Victorian times. Woolworths department store sold the first manufactured Christmas tree, and the trend spread.

The Scandinavians thought of mistletoe as a peaceful and harmonious plant. And the linked Frigg, their goddess of love, with mistletoe.
The combination of these two schools of thought brought about the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed beneath the mistletoe were thought to have happiness and good luck the next year."

In the days to come I'll be adding more Christmas symbols and their origins, so stay tuned!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Paper Route Greetings! :^)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Sustainability Question

While trying to determine whether or not it would be to my advantage to continue building my greeting card business as a provider of an eco-friendly or sustainable product, I've come across a few interesting things. My search began with first my own desire to be responsible to the environment (especially given the fact that paper manufacturers are one of the top water polluters out there), and a hunch that consumers might actually prefer to buy my product based in part on it's environmental impact (or non-impact). I was certainly inspired by the work of Aveda as an industry leader in sustainability, and by Melaleuca's ability to create productes from it's main (sustainable) ingredient – tea tree oil, but a friend asked, "How do you know that your customers care about eco-friendly greeting cards?"
This is certainly a valid question.
With the help of my trusty Google search engine, I proceeded to spend hours looking for "consumer demand for sustainable products", "eco-friendly demand", "sustainable statistics" and such. While there is no shortage of non-profit and consumer information sites that define sustainability, purport the value of buying green, and educating us on the impact we often unknowingly have when we buy that latte, or pair of shoes (and other stuff), it turns out that empirical evidence for this growing trend in the United States and how it affects a company's bottom line is hard to come by. The Dow Jones has a Sustainability Index, and there are a myriad of sites geared toward training businesses to operate sustainably such as Business for Sustainable Practice , which site the triple bottom line ?(reduced overhead, increased profitability, good PR) but none with any measurable evidence of the demand, or impact on a company's bottom line.

The most I've seemed to find (and am truly grateful for!) is a bit of news from blog
which gave me the following:

"An astonishing statistic from today's Idaho Statesman: 75 percent of Americans consider themselves to be "green," environmentally-conscious shoppers. But it turns out that of those 75 percent, only 10 percent consistently and actively search out green products and are willing to pay extra for them; the other 65 percent like to buy green if it's convenient and no more expensive than the alternative."

I don't mean to say here that there is NO proven value in operating or purchasing sustainably, and making responsible choices in life and business practice, but if there were such a study with dollar signs attached, I would bet businesses old and new would be lining up to cash in on saving the planet and its people. As much as I've managed to find in a few hours about demand and guidelines in the US, clearly the EU is leading the way in this department and I suspect (hope?) that there will be a tipping point in our near future as the wave started across the pond hits the US. In the mean time, I'm going to do what I can to build sustainability into my business anyway.