I admit it.  I’m a real procrastinator when it comes to shopping for gifts, leaving things to the very last minute.   I’m one of those guys standing at the check out stand at 5PM on Christmas Eve.   Purchasing greeting cards slots itself right in there.  I’m so lame about purchasing cards that my mother in Newfoundland gave up on me a decade ago, content now to just receive a phone call.

But I also know that all of those cards that I have sent over the preceding years are just sitting there in some trunk, yellowed with age, kept for posterity.   My mother is a sentimental type, but it’s fair to say that whether they are kept for quarter of a century or a day, they all end up eventually in the “system”.  I would like to think that most people are recycling everything paper by now, but just so you know, the highest recycling rate in the word is Switzerland at just over 50%.   The US ranks 7th at 31% and Canada is somewhere below that.   Strides have certainly been made over the last few years, but even the best recyclers are still dumping half of what they consume.   Not good.   If you just take the combined 9 billion (yes, billion!) greeting cards consumed by the US and the UK in one year and place them end-to-end, they would circle the earth 54 times!

And apart from the paper used for these cards, we also have to consider all of the toxic ink being used, and the fuel required to transport them to the stores, through the post, and finally to the dump or recycling plant.   This is not insignificant.

So, for you males out there, if you are a shopping procrastinator like me and will be out there tomorrow cruising the shops for a card, perhaps consider the following options (taken in part from Grinning Planet)…

  • Pick up the phone instead.  Use the opportunity to explain why you are not sending a card this year.   P.s. Make sure that you call though – I will not be held responsible for the wrath you will incur if you neglect to send a card and don’t bother to call.   That gives me the willies just thinking about it.
  • Send an e-greeting (although, personally, these drive me nuts)
  • Choose a card that is produced from 100% recycled paper and ideally, 100% post-consumer content (PCC).

And, mothers, if you do receive a card, enjoy it for a day and then take the scissors to it and carve it into a bookmark or frame it and decorate your wall.  I know this sounds a lot like Upcycling, but this is not the same, after all, as creating a headband from your bra strap.  And perhaps give your sons and husbands permission to forgo the card next year in the spirit of Green.

Happy Mother’s Day, moms!  Enjoy your well-deserved day of recognition for everything you do!