Why are you still sending Christmas cards?
It’s time to ban this outdated, wasteful festive pastime
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, trim the tree, stuff the turkey, and reach out to loved ones, but you’re unwittingly wasting literally tonnes of paper through wasteful Christmas cards.
According to Britain’s fastest growing waste collection company, it’s time to ban the old tradition of sending cards, as they are terrible news for the environment.
Christmas grinches BusinessWaste.co.uk say we need a ban on unrecyclable glittery Christmas cards, to go with the self-imposed ban some stores have on Christmas decorations that use glitter.
“We know most people will see us as The Grinch trying to ruin Christmas, but unfortunately for our environment, the season creates a waste problem that lasts all year long,” says company spokesperson Mark Hall.
“The Christmas card tradition has had its day, and now it’s time to make eco-friendly choices during the jolly holidays.”
To send, or not to send
The sending and receiving of Christmas cards can be traced back as far as 1843, the same year that Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, and it’s estimated that now around a billion cards are sent every year in the UK.
But unfortunately, the vast majority of these cards end up in landfill, as the widely recyclable cardboard is often contaminated with shiny and glittery decorations.
“People seem to think that sending Christmas cards doesn’t do much harm to the environment because of the perception that all cardboard is easily recycled,” says BusinessWaste.co.uk’s Mark Hall.
“However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. People chuck their cards into the recycling bin, which causes havoc at recycling centres causing whole loads of paper to be dumped because it’s contaminated with glitter.”
This problem is why leading retailers Waitrose, Morrisons, and John Lewis have banned glitter this year across their own-brand Christmas products, including cards and wrapping paper, as glitter can take hundreds of years to biodegrade.
But not only are Christmas cards awful for the environment, they cost you a small fortune too as the Christmas card industry in the UK worth £1.7 billion, higher than anywhere else in the world.
“By the time you’ve gone out and bought enough to send to everyone and painstakingly handwritten them out, you’re then stung with postage costs,” says Hall.
Hall: “I bet you’ve never considered how much CO2 delivery trucks use to get card up to beloved Aunt Edith 400 miles away, while getting the billion other cards to the right addresses in the same month too!”
Five great alternatives to Christmas cards
For most of us this year, sending a Christmas card is the closest contact we can offer – which is why BusinessWaste.co.uk have come up with some sustainable ideas of how to send Christmas messages to your nearest and dearest.
Make your own cards – Ditch the glitter and get creative using items you might already have laying around your house from last Christmas.
Pick up the phone – Reach out to those you haven’t been able to see this year with a phone call, people will appreciate your time for a catch up much more than a card in the post.
Send an E-card – For the more tech-savvy, why not send a personalised e-card to your friends and family, plus you can send these all around the world at no cost at all.
Use eco-friendly cards – There are plenty of companies offering eco-alternatives to Christmas cards, just make sure they are from a sustainable source, and free from glitter, glue, and foil. And try to hand deliver as much as possible, socially distanced of course!
Donate to charity – Take all of the money you would have normally spent on cards and postage and donate to a charity of your choice on the behalf of your recipients. The money will go much further for a charity than sending a one-off card to your sister.
There is plenty you can do with the cards you might receive this year too, such as reusing the images as gift tags for presents or use them to make your own cards for next year so that they don’t end up in landfill.
Hall: “We need to start viewing Christmas cards as a single-use waste product, because that’s essentially what they are.
“And once we start phasing them out and using alternatives like we have with plastic bottles and straws; it’ll be much cheaper for us and far better for the planet too.”
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