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Entrepreneur launches a reusable Christmas cracker with the traditional bang


Rob Thompson
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Entrepreneur launches a reusable Christmas cracker with the traditional bang
Source -  Stuff

By - Marta Sheerman

Date - 17-08-2021

Emma Conyngham has launched a reusable Christmas cracker which she hopes will eventually displace the disposable, single-use cracker containing junky plastic toys.

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Her social enterprise, Waste Free Celebrations, had huge success last year with its reusable Christmas gift bags selling hundreds online and now has more than $25,000 of orders for the eco-friendly Christmas cracker, and it’s only August.

A reusable cracker is a bit of a mind bender. How do you reuse it and get it to re-crack when you’ve already pulled it apart?

It took her some time to work that out after looking at lots of patterns of crafted crackers like those with toilet rolls or napkins with Velcro. Nothing came close to the traditional cracker.

Conyngham reckons she has cracked it with her crackers that pull apart with just the right amount of tension to ensure they go off with a bang and look beautiful.

Reusable Christmas crackers made by Waste Free Celebrations have cardboard interlocking tubes and cotton sleeves.
She worked with a tube company in China to develop a custom-made interlocking tube with a patent for that pending.All the business advice she had received was to get the products made in China, and “I find that a bit soul-destroying, not just from a business point of view, but I am a crafter”.

“I wanted to turn the cracker experience on its head. Instead of a disposable cracker with a hat that falls down your face and filled with plastic junk, I wanted something that is beautiful, entirely reusable, supportive of local business as well as charity.”

Statistics provided by Customs showed cracker use was declining. Last year 1.7m were imported, down from 4.5 million in 2016.

The reusable cracker is made of two cardboard tubes, one a tiny bit smaller than the other. The smaller cracker is pushed into the larger cracker just a few centimetres to create the tube. A 305 millimetre-long (12-inch), and 5mm-wide “snap” is placed down the centre of the tube and snaps with a bang when the cracker is pulled from both ends.

Getting sufficient “pull” took a lot of time and money. The crackers were tested by an engineer who verified her “Re-Crackers” snapped with the same force as a disposable cracker.

.A cotton Christmas party hat that comes in the Re-Cracker, a reusable Christmas cracker, can be washed and used over and over again.
The Christmas wrapping on the outside of the cracker has been replaced with washable cotton sleeves which cover the cardboard tubes. The fabric features traditional Christmas designs and themes by graphic artists in Taranaki and Otago.

Living in Wanaka, Conyngham has a circle of local women in Central Otago who work on a per-piece basis to sew the cotton sleeves and reusable gift bags.

In Auckland a group of Afghan women do the same sewing work.
Conyngham said from her time working in Afghanistan she knew Afghan women were great seamstresses while a relative was a volunteer at the Afghan Refugee centre in Auckland, so together they found several women who wanted to do the work.

Each cracker is filled with a party hat made of cotton and wadding in bright colours, so they can be used over and over again, as well as jokes and mini gifts made by local businesses, like tiny soaps, key rings, fridge magnets, solid shampoo, and candles and donation tokens towards a local charity. Each year the business will sell refill packs that will include the snaps, jokes and small gifts. So not only was the cracker saving waste and environmentally friendly, it also supported local businesses and charities, Conyngham said.

Trees That Count chief executive Adele Fitzpatrick offers her advice on how to have a lower-carbon Christmas.
“We don’t have to give up all of our traditions. We can just refine and redefine how we do things.

“We’d love to see the end of the disposable cracker in New Zealand by 2030 and to make reusables the new normal.”

“It’s our first year. If it works well we would like to expand the types of products that go into the refills, so you can really tailor it to your family and your group.”

“These are lifelong heirloom pieces, so you invest in them, and you have them for many years, so you want them to be good quality.”

And she hoped to have the tubes made here next year.

A cracker box of eight costs $199.95 and a refill pack $39.95 and are sold online. Customers receive a sheet of instructions and a video of how to reload the crackers.

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I wonder if this will take off. It does make sense, but seems quite expensive, and thats generally a blocker to mass purchase.

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This is a great idea!  I've seen the crackers used in videos and shows from the UK, but it never caught on in this country.

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We love Christmas crackers. I received my first from a Brit when we were in Iraq. The next Christmas I ordered some for my kids and every year they love opening them. Their affordability is what makes them winners. This reusable one?.... I agree with Rob...cost may kill it.

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On 8/19/2021 at 1:09 PM, Black Hills Santa said:

We love Christmas crackers. I received my first from a Brit when we were in Iraq. The next Christmas I ordered some for my kids and every year they love opening them. Their affordability is what makes them winners. This reusable one?.... I agree with Rob...cost may kill it.

Yes, ethically the reusable crackers make total sense, but most people tend to vote with their pocket as it were :) 

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