Around two years ago I decided to stop sending Christmas cards altogether. They just seem so wasteful. Trees continuously cut down for no reason other than to send a card to people I usually see all the time anyway. A card that would sit on a shelf for a couple of weeks and then end up in recycling (hopefully) or landfill.
It seemed a pointless cycle if I’m honest. A tree chopped down for someone to send me a card that I recycled only a couple of weeks later. The whole effort, manufacturing and cost just seems pointless.
Around one billion Christmas cards are sent in the UK every Christmas. What a staggering amount!
I do appreciate a proper handwritten letter, but if I’m honest all my Christmas cards ever say is ‘Dear so and so, Happy Christmas, love so and so’. Rarely even a message of good will!
Also, and I may be being a bit bah-humbug here, but I often receive cards off people who make no effort to actually see me in real life! Family members who will send a card for Christmas and my birthday and that is all. If I try to meet up they simply don’t seem interested or don’t want to give any of their precious weekend time to me.
So, for a variety of reasons, mainly the eco-conscious ones, I decided to stop sending Christmas cards and save the money and time instead!
However, I know that many people do love to send Christmas cards and couldn’t be quite as ruthless as I have been by cutting out the tradition altogether. So what are the eco-friendly ways of sending a Christmas card? This is something I will explore in this article.
Also, I still receive many Christmas cards. There are four of us in our household and the kids usually get loads from school friends too. I always feel so guilty simply recycling them at the end of the year, but I really don’t need to be filling our attic with boxes filled with cards! So what to do with the used Christmas cards? How can they be re-purposed? This is also something I will dive into in this blog post.
So, first up…
Eco-friendly Christmas card ideas
Firstly, let’s explore all the options for making Christmas card sending more eco-friendly. Here are several suggestions that are much better for the planet than buying brand new cards every year from new trees:
· Stop sending cards
OK, so my first suggestion is simply to stop sending cards! Bah-humbug perhaps, but I do sometimes find the whole card tradition a bit bizarre and pointless! If you have a handwritten letter to write inside the card then it seems worth it, but otherwise it seems like such a waste of trees, energy and resources to me, as well as money. I’d honestly be happy to not receive any cards that don’t serve a greater purpose and for people to save their money and the trees, especially from the family and friends I see all the time anyway!
· Buy recycled cards only
There are lots of card varieties that are made from recycled paper, so you should always choose these over fresh card stock. Read the back of the cards to find out their eco-credentials and opt for those packaged in a cardboard box instead of cellophane. Many charities sell cards using recycled paper so you can support two great initiatives at once!
· Design your own digital card
A great way to still technically send a card, but save paper and trees, is to send a digital card. You can make these really personal by designing your own Christmas card online using a free design programme such as Canva and downloading handwriting fonts from Font Bundles to really add a personalised touch to your cards. Simply create your card, use the handwriting font to write your message and email the card to each recipient. It’s a great way to save paper, but still send something meaningful (as you’ve designed it) and to brighten someone’s inbox!
· Use seeded paper
So I’ve mentioned recycled paper and card a lot already, but did you know there is such a thing as seeded paper too?! It’s usually made from recycled paper, or handmade, and has seeds embedded within the paper such as wildflower seeds. The card can then be planted after use to grow flowers or whatever plant the seeds are for. They’re also known as plantable Christmas cards.
· Choose your cards wisely and with a purpose
If you absolutely must buy a brand new pack of cards to send then choose your cards wisely. We have purchased some cards this year (guilty) as my daughter designed a card at school and we had it printed to raise some money for the school. Even though we don’t usually, it seemed this served a greater purpose as my daughter has designed the card which can be kept as a keepsake, and it was to raise money for the school. It’s the first time we’ve taken part in the five years she’s been at school. We also send Oxfam charity unwrapped cards that aren’t technically cards, but a donation on the recipients behalf and the card simply raises awareness of the cause – it’s not technically a greetings card.
· Avoid plastic decorations
Obviously not everyone has the opportunity to do this and feel less guilty about buying new cards, so choose your cards wisely is my next best advice. Avoid cards with plastic glitter decorations as these are not good for the environment. The same goes for foil cards and cards wrapped in plastic wrap. Make a better choice if you can. There are many beautiful plain paper/card cards without all the fancy things that are bad for the planet. The Woodland Trust say “Choose cards that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC® ) certified. This ensures the paper used has been sustainably and ethically produced.”
Best ways to recycle and repurpose used Christmas cards
Even if you don’t personally send Christmas cards, you probably still get some, right?
So what to do with the Christmas cards when you no longer want them displayed?
Here are some great suggestions:
· Recycle them
First things first, never throw them in landfill! Most cards can be recycled with paper and card and turned into something new. If you’re not going to use them for anything else, then at least put them in your home recycling bin for collection.
· Use them for crafts
If you have kids then cut out the pictures on the cards and pop them in their craft boxes. They’ll love making collages with the pictures or stick characters onto wooden lollipop sticks to make puppet shows! If you make scrapbooks and photo albums, then these are perfect decorations for your books.
· Repurpose the cards
When you start thinking about how many cards are produced, bought new and only stored for a couple of weeks before being recycled, it just seems mad! They are used, but also practically brand new! Why not keep each card and resend it the following year instead of buying a new pack of cards constantly? Just cover the old message with a paper label and write your new message on top. They could be used as thank you cards and greetings cards too.
· Use them as gift tags
If we send one million cards as a nation each Christmas, then how many gift tags do we use?! Use your old cards as gift tags to stop the production of more things.
· Donate your used Christmas cards
Keep an eye out for local charities who accept donations of used Christmas cards. Some charities repurpose the cards and sell them to raise funds for their charity.
Have a greener and greater Christmas!
There are definitely lots of ways you can still send and receive Christmas cards whilst helping them to serve a greater purpose and with the environment in mind.
Hopefully these tips have inspired you to have a greener and more conscious Christmas!