Green Greeting Cards

The lovely sentiment of greeting cards isn’t in doubt here, simply the environmental reverberations of the millions of paper greeting cards circulated globally amongst friends, family and well-wishers. Simply put – that’s a lot of trees!

“Save the Trees!” is now a decades-old familiar idiom, but that’s no reason to forget it. Sustainable forestry is as crucial as ever. Tree farms or plantations are one of the wood industries trump cards – planting a forest of trees specifically for industrial purposes. Some ecologists cite that tree farms are still damaging to the earth for a number of reasons. Namely, the excessive production of CO₂ due to chemically enhanced rapid growth seems to be their key issue. Also, the introduction of foreign trees into fragile ecosystems (for example, native Indonesian teak trees into Central American tree farms) could have long-term detrimental effects that are, as yet, unidentified. In the early 1900’s a fungal blight by the name of Asian Bark Fungus was accidentally introduced to American shores – in less than thirty-five years the mighty American Chestnut, once one of the most grand and prolific trees in America, was all but wiped out. How fortunate that the fungus was at least species specific. Similar events cannot be ruled out in terms of non-native tree farm introduction.

Sustainable forestation (e.g. reasonable harvesting and re-planting of natural forests in their native ecosystem) is more costly and less lucrative than tree farming; however greeting cards produced via means of natural, sustainable forestation are preferable. The use of virgin wood over recycled material is still environmentally inadequate.

Disposal of paper greeting cards can go one of two ways – in the regular rubbish, or in the recycling bin. A five-year-old can make the right choice there. Recycling is sometimes a pain – tearing plastic lids from grubby old cardboard containers, picking apart boxes, metal and cardboard ringbinders – the list can be cumbersome and irritating in daily life…It’s still not a passable excuse to chuck everything in together though. Recycling does have its environmental costs in terms of machine output, energy consumed, transport and so on. Still, the fact remains that recycled waste and the products from it are more caring to the earth than those made from newly gathered materials. Greeting card companies that use recycled materials are generally proud of the fact, so be sure to look for the origin of their materials on the back of their greeting cards. Some practical alternatives for old greeting cards involve some simple creativity – make bookmarks, postcards, gift tags, new cards and collages (this can be a great way to remember kid’s birthdays etc)

E cards are a fantastic alternative. E cards are cheap, paper-free and usually highly imaginative and easily personalised. Usually, an SMS or email message containing a code and web address is sent to the recipient, they can then log on at their leisure and view their personalised e-greeting card. This is a very practical solution to instantly reaching far-off friends and family, getting in there at the last minute to cover forgotten celebrations, or simply wishing to preserve environmental integrity.

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