It was 1891 and Annie Oakley, star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, was far from home on the frigid moors of Scotland. Determined to reach family and friends across the pond despite the distance, she designed her own holiday greeting complete with a photo of herself posing in tartan. She took her designs to a local Glasgow printer and with that, America’s favorite sharpshooter pioneered yet another popular trend — the personalized Christmas card.
The tradition continues to this day, and with the pandemic altering our approach to the holidays, our desire to connect with friends and loved ones on Christmas has only grown stronger. In fact, 60% of Americans are sending holiday cards this year up from 38% in 2019, according to a Paperless Post survey. Etsy reports a 23% increase in searches for holiday cards compared with last year. Online stationery company Minted, surveyed 2,000 Americans in September, three-quarters of whom agreed that holiday cards “have more sentimental value this year than in previous years.” Americans buy 6.5 billion greeting cards each year, the most popular — Christmas cards of course. Who’s buying all these cards? The Greeting Card Association says a tech savvy younger crowd is fueling the rise in popularity.
That’s a Whole Lot of (Christmas) Trees
The power of a handwritten note cannot be denied, but all those cards take a toll on the environment from manufacturing and packaging, to shipping and delivery, as we mail them off to a growing list of folks we haven’t seen in too long. For that reason, many companies are making their cards from recycled paper and other plastic-free materials. Some are going the extra mile to offset their carbon footprint by planting a tree for every card, or even planting seeds inside compostable cardstock so you can watch something beautiful grow out of your correspondence. As you make your choices this year, look for cards with recycled paper packaging, vegetable inks, and water-based varnish. Skip anything plastic, along with glitter, and metallic seals. To make it easy, here’s a list of our favorite eco-friendly Christmas card purveyors.
Best Eco-Friendly Holiday Cards
Go Annie Oakley style and send personalized holiday photo greetings with Minted, now offering 30% off recycled greeting cards. Ahead of the curve, Minted sources their paper from Mohawk, who in 2003, became the first U.S. papermill to be powered 100% by wind, and the first U.S. premium papermill to move toward carbon neutral production.
Every single Paper Culture card is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, meaning no trees are harmed in the process. But that’s not all — Paper Culture has managed to offset their entire carbon footprint, and, as if that wasn’t impressive enough, they plant a tree for every order they receive. To date, there are over 1 million trees growing thanks to their creative business model.
Send a card, plant a seed. Imagine if all the Christmas cards you’d ever received were now flowers growing in a beautiful garden. That’s what Botanical PaperWorks envisions as a way to reduce waste and make the world a more beautiful place. Their cards are made from biodegradable seed paper approved for planting by the USDA. Every batch is purity-tested to be sure there are no weeds or invasive species, only the loveliest of flowers to look forward to in springtime.
Why not forgo the paper altogether says Greenvelope, a luxury electronic card service that seeks to emulate the experience of opening a traditional printed greeting. Since we’re already almost guaranteed to be online these days, an e-card could be just the thing, especially if you’re running behind on sending greetings, or if your handwriting requires some deciphering. Greenvelope donates a percentage of their sales to Mountains of Sound, a non-profit dedicated to maintaining forests.
The Card that Keeps on Giving
Take the good will of the season even further with the card that keeps on giving. Whether purchasing cards to directly benefit charity, or by making tribute cards of your own, you can send more than just greetings this holiday. Get creative by donating to a cause close to the heart of your friend or family member, and then send a card to let them know you’ve made a difference on their behalf. Some charities, like St. Jude’s, have streamlined the process — you donate online with a personalized message; they send the cards out for you.
Christmas Greetings: Good Tidings of Great Joy
The Gospel of Luke tells of Mary going to visit Elizabeth just before that first Christmas, and on her arrival Elizabeth said: “When the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” The baby was John the Baptist and in a very dark time, these two soon-to-be-mothers were about to see the world change forever. What better way to celebrate the good news of Christmas than to send “good tidings of great joy…” this year and for all time.