Gift Shop Plus Spring 2024
Green-Living Essentials: Companies launch eco-conscious collections By Regina Molaro

For years, discussions have swirled around sustainability and how to implement small changes that have a big impact on the planet. Many consumers strive toward goals of recycling more and producing less waste. Eco-minded companies are also doing their fair share to make a difference.

According to NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, the 2022 Sustainable Market Share Index found products marketed as “sustainable” are responsible for nearly a third of growth in consumer-packaged goods (items used daily that require routine replacement; think food, beverages, clothing, makeup and household products) from 2013 to 2022. Market share growth continues year over year. Beyond packaged goods, plenty of other segments also focus on sustainability.

SproutWorld“Demand for brands that prioritize transparency and sustainability is increasing. Consumers want to know what they’re purchasing, how it’s produced and how they can dispose of products after use,” said Michael Stausholm, CEO and founder of SproutWorld, a plantable pencil and makeup liner company.

Businesses are realizing it’s no longer enough to make unsubstantiated claims, so certifications have become the norm. Companies are being asked to demonstrate their impact on the climate, and to do so with third-party verified climate accounting.

SproutWorld, which has an office in Boston, is B Corp-certified. This means it meets high standards of verified performance, accountability and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.


SproutWorld’s journey began in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2013. A group of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the idea for a plantable pencil with a seed capsule that could be placed in the soil after use. After Stausholm discovered the pencil on Kickstarter’s crowdfunding platform, he purchased the patent and global rights.

Demand is on an upswing. The pencils are crafted from sustainable harvested wood, natural graphite and clay. After being planted (capsule side down), the seeds will sprout into trees, herbs, vegetables, flowers or fruits.

Bestsellers in the collection include the original edition pencil packs; Happy Bee edition ($12 retail); and new Earth editions ($20 retail). The suggested retails range from $12 to $20.



Libby Hampel, founder and designer of MASU — a paper goods company in Columbia, Missouri — reiterates the power of sustainable items. Before launching MASU, she considered the impact her actions would have on other people and the planet.

Curious and resourceful, Hampel knew she could create goods that were eco-friendly and ethically made. “I’m always aiming for that sweet spot of looks, feels and does good,” she said.

“Thank You Triangles” greeting card from MASU.

For this artistic entrepreneur, necessity sparked her invention. Hampel struggled to find stylish wrapping paper that was fully made of recycled goods, recyclable and made in America — so she launched her own collection in fall 2021. In February 2023, she added greeting cards adorned with the same playful, bold designs that embellished the giftwrap.

The paper used for wrapping is premium-coated, 100% recycled and made in America. It dons a velvety smooth finish on both sides.

MASU’s paper goods are printed on an HP Indigo Press, which produces superior color quality, is ideal for small runs and enables the printing of a variety of designs without additional setup costs for each, Hampel said.

All paper, including the white envelopes, are 100% PCW (post-consumer waste) recycled and are recyclable. The collection also includes recycled denim envelopes, which are made in the U.S. from cotton and denim textile scraps.

Top-performers at MASU include the Get Lit Candles for birthday celebrations and Thank You Triangles and Folky Fleur for notes of appreciation. Electric Leopard, Cake Smash and Peach Party wrapping papers are also trending. MASU’s cards retail for $5.50; wrapping paper sheets are priced at $6.


“Get Lit” and “Cake Smash” wrapping papers from MASU.

Like Hampel, SproutWorld’s Stausholm had a longtime interest in sustainability. It was always important his company give more than it takes from the earth. SproutWorld is involved with a variety of sustainability projects. Last year, it planted 12,000 trees in Poland.

“We also have our net-zero target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (which drives ambitious climate action in the private sector by enabling organizations to set science-based emissions reduction targets) and are working toward a net-zero business much faster than initially planned. We also hope to inspire other companies to achieve it,” Stausholm said.

To date, SproutWorld has sold more than 65 million plantable pencils to 80 countries.

Get Lit Candles” greeting card. Photos courtesy of MASU.

“This means we’re giving a lot of plants back to the planet,” Stausholm said.

Although plastic sleeves have long been the norm for packaging greeting cards, MASU’s Hampel cited a trend that more stationery brands are using plastic-free alternatives. Some are using a recyclable paper sticker to keep the card and envelope together.

Sustainable alternatives to bubble wrap, packing peanuts and plastic boxes are also gaining traction.

“Along with this,” Hampel said, “it’s great to see more businesses reusing shipping boxes and materials before recycling them.”

Regina Molaro

Regina Molaro is a freelance writer who covers art and design, fashion,beauty, and home décor. She can be reached at Reginacooper30@yahoo.com.

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