Greeting Cards Can Be Recycled And Reused

Do you have a stash of greeting cards you’ve received – Xmas, birthday, or whatever occasion – that you really don’t want to keep any more? The recycling bin is certainly a greener option that disposing of them with your household waste, but they can also be reused.
Even though around half a billion email greeting cards are sent each year globally, paper based cards are still very popular as you can see from the following statistics from the Greeting Card Association:
– 7 billion greeting cards are purchased by Americans annually.
– The average US household buys 30 greeting cards a year.
– Over 2 billion boxed and individual Christmas cards were sold in the USA last year.
– There are over 3,000 greeting card publishers in the United States
Some people love to hang onto cards they receive as they become a part of family history, others are quite happy to let them go soon after the event.
While unwanted greeting cards can be put in your recycling bin; there are also organizations that can make use of them. These groups are practising the second of the 3 “green” R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
For example, check with your local childcare center or primary school as they may be able to re use the card fronts as craft materials. 
In the USA, one of the world’s oldest greeting card reuse programs is run by St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Nevada – a refuge for abused, abandoned and neglected children.
Children and volunteers make new cards of out card fronts sent in, which are then sold to the public. The children are also paid for their efforts, with the money they receive being divided between spending, savings and a fund for outings and such.
Unfortunately, St. Jude’s cannot accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards. They don’t state why, but after digging around it appears to have to do with copyright and the copyright holders having “ka-ching” related issues in someone else generating revenue from their designs – even if it’s a charity helping abused kids. 
Anyway, you can learn more about sending card fronts or buying the cards the children of St. Jude’s Ranch make here – they accept card front donations from all over the world.
Greeting Card Crafts
If you’re looking for some ideas for your own craft projects – Sherri Osborn’s page has some ideas with instructions, as does this page on Squidoo.
Greeting Card Industry Waste

It seems something greeting card companies are still having challenges with is oversupplying the market. As I researched for this article, I came across a number of posts from people stating they have worked in the industry as merchandisers for greeting card companies and witnessed shocking levels of waste. One person said they were supposed to apply dye to the surplus greeting cards to make them totally unusable before throwing them out. 
It appears at times thousands of surplus cards are thrown out with general waste and winding up in landfill – whether this is an issue more at the retailer’s end rather than the card companies, I’m not sure as I don’t have a good understanding of how the industry works.
While waste isn’t the exclusive domain of the greeting card industry by any means, if the above is true, maybe some of these companies should expend more effort on waste reduction rather than worrying about a non-profit organisation re-using cards that have already been *bought*. They’ll not only save valuable resources, but a stack of money too.
Choosing More Earth Friendly Cards
A few years back, environmental issues didn’t seem like such an important topic for the greeting card industry generally; but to its credit, cards printed on recycled paper are far more common these days thankfully, so keep an eye out for those when making a selection. There will usually be some sort of labelling on the back of the card indicating recycled content status.
Buying a recycled card and then recycling or reusing a card made from recycled content just makes even better use of wood, other resources and energy!