Real Homes and Period Living ditch plastic packaging for subscriber copies

We find out just how sustainable your favourite homes magazines really are

Covers of Real Homes, Period Living, Homebuilding & Renovating
(Image credit: Future)

Subscribers to Real Homes and Period Living magazines will experience new and more environmentally friendly packaging when the first issues of 2020 drop through their letterboxes at the end of January.

The two magazines, which share as their online home, and sister title Homebuilding & Renovating, are eschewing polythene wrapping and switching to an innovative new paper-wrap format for UK subscribers that is 100 per cent recyclable. 

We thought this good news presented a great opportunity to explain to readers exactly what Real Homes and Period Living are doing to make the world a more sustainable place, so we asked the magazines’ Brand Director Paul Newman to give us the lowdown. Here’s what he told us.

'Real Homes, Period Living and Homebuilding & Renovating are all published by Future plc and Corporate Social Responsibility is something we take very seriously. We are committed to making a positive impact in the locations where we operate and we’re particularly conscious of the need to ensure our magazines are sustainably produced – it’s something that matters enormously to our readers and passionate magazine teams alike.'

Paper is obviously a hugely important part of producing any magazine and the good news, according to Paul, is that Real Homes and Period Living have long been committed to minimising harm to our lovely planet.

'All the paper we use in producing Real Homes and Period Living comes from sustainable, managed forests where at least one tree is planted for every tree felled. Our paper mills and merchants hold Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and accreditation. What’s more, all suppliers in our print and paper supply chain hold FSC certification.'

Fab. But with a rapid turnover in issues, what about the copies of magazines left unsold on newsagent shelves at the end of each month?  Well, Paul says this is covered off too.

'All unsold copies of Real Homes and Period Living are recovered and either used in recycled paper manufacture or other recycling operations or handed to local schools and hospitals. Sometimes we even recover the unsold copies and distribute them with future issues in some supermarkets at no extra cost to readers. Better still, we are full members of the On-Pack-Recycling-Label Scheme (OPRL), which educates consumers on how to responsibly recycle and/or dispose of our magazines and packaging.'

That certainly sounds reassuring, so why did it take so long to switch to the new paper-wrap format for subscriptions? As Paul explains, the technology is still in its infancy.

'We’ve wanted to make this change for some time, but because the paper-wrap technology is relatively new we’ve had to wait for the right machinery to be installed and tested by our printer. Now it’s up and running, we’re able to kiss goodbye to plastic packaging on subscriber copies for good. Introducing this change increases our distribution costs significantly, but it’s absolutely the right thing to do so we’ve taken the plunge and the decision not to pass the extra charges onto our readers.'

Fair enough and great news for subscribers, but magazines are notorious for using plastic packaging to secure supplements and other gifts in newsagents. What will happen to those copies? Unfortunately, says Paul, that might take a little longer to phase out.

'Right now we use LDPE4 (number-4 coded low-density polyethylene) to wrap our newsstand copies when they come with extra elements, such as supplements. This is a fully recyclable material, but it’s still a form of plastic so we want to eliminate it for good. Once we’ve made the successful transition to paper-wrapped subscriber copies in January 2020 we’d like to trial the same approach on our newsstand copies so watch this space.'

So there you have it, a full lowdown on what your favourite homes magazines are doing to operate as sustainably as possible. 

Not a subscriber? Then sign up today with one of our fantastic offers to Real Homes and Period Living, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be casting a vote for a more sustainable world.

Real Homes is the homes website for people with real lives, real budgets and real problems. Everyone deserves to love where they live and Real Homes is the ultimate homeware authority that makes this possible by covering realistic and achievable ways to make your home better. Expect easy DIYs, advice on costing and loads of interiors inspiration. Whether it is our first hand experiences, or finding an expert with the best know-how, everyone can find a project to suit their needs on Real Homes.