So this year for sure, more people than ever aren’t doing Christmas cards, and every environmentally sensible thought in your mind might be telling you that that is the way to go. But around 900 million of them are still sold every year in the UK and Christmas cards quite simply are one of the better ‘frivolities’ in life when you think about it. That opportunity to communicate in a good old fashioned way and more importantly raise around £50 million a year for charity, is not to be sniffed at entirely.
As with everything, there are ways to do it sensibly with the minimum of impact on the planet, and the maximum bang for your favourite charity.
Here are our top tips in brief!
1. Think End to End
I try and do this with everything I buy these days, but when buying your cards, or indeed your wrapping paper or whatever, consider where the materials to make your card came from, and what will happen to them when the card is finished with.
Make sure you look out for the FSC tick-tree logo on the back of your Christmas cards. The FSC label on a product is your guarantee that the wood or paper it contains is not the result of illegal logging or damaging forestry practices. They are commonly available and just that little reassurance that you need.
There are also cards around that are made ‘recycled materials’ – there’s a win/win right there, as it’s actually quite a sensible thing to use recycled paper for. And steer clear of anything too fancy – plain is good!
Or, how about a seed card handmade by the lovely Hannah Marchant Cards – plant the card when you’ve finished with it, and watch it bloom into wildflowers or even carrots! They do work! We’ve done it!
2. Shop Smart
Most of us will buy cards that will benefit a charity these days. But that is a huge market, and generally one that retailers try and capitalize on. So it is important to know what you are buying, and how much a charity will actually receive as a result of your purchase. That is why we put together our gargantuan database of Charity Christmas Cards back in 2015 and boy was that an eye-opener. Not much has changed and if you want to read the full blog post, you can do so here, but here is our quick guide:
- Buy directly from the charity. In most cases that charity will receive 100% of the profit from the card.
- Specialist Charity Card Shops that you see in community locations offer their nominated charities the best deal without a doubt, so if you’ve never tried one, check them out.
- The high street is a minefield, but have a look on the pack to see what the charity actually received – it varies greatly, and in some cases is pitiful in comparison! Paperchase offers a flat rate of 50p per pack and John Lewis usually gives the best percentage donations on their own brand range at 25%. Steer clear of WH Smiths, and supermarkets, including M&S – they often have a flat rate or a low percentage donation. But a little bit of scrutiny of the pack should tell you that.
3. The After Life
Of course, this is the part of the process that is out of your hands, so you have to do your best to help the recipient do the right thing. Make sure that your cards are glitter, shiny and embellishment free if you don’t wish to impede their path into recycling nirvana! Most plain Christmas cards will be recyclable in most people’s kerbside collections – check with your local authority to be sure or have a look on Recycle Now. We haven’t seen any supermarket card recycling schemes yet, but we’ll keep our eyes out.
4. The Final Resourceful Flourish
Keep the stamps on all of those you receive and send them off to a charity who will raise funds from them. Yes, that still happens just like it used to in the Blue Peter days. Here’s a list of where you can send them.
Right, I think it’s the last posting day in about a nano-second, so I guess I’d better write all 9 of my cards!
If you need more advice on having a more resourceful Christmas, please check out our blog posts It’s a Wrap | How to Create Less Waste when Wrapping those Christmas Presents! and Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree & Should We Be Buying Real or Fake?
Watch out for our forthcoming Guide to Reducing Christmas Food Waste and our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Recycling coming soon.