Q&A.; Recycling Christmas Cards

Pile of different kinds of holiday cards

Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Q. "Hi All - I usually send my used but nice Christmas Card fronts to the St. Jude's Childrens' Home. They have been so inundated with cards over the last few years that they cannot economically store more. Is there some company or cause that would want them? I think I could get my whole office and group of friends to participate. We are willing to donate them and pay our own postage. Any ideas?" Thank you, Cindi C."A. Tough one Cindi. St Judes, in case our readers don't know, normally take old cards and reuse them to produce new cards, sales of which go to help pay for the welfare and education of 'at-risk' kids. But as Cindi points out, they have way more than they cope with. But please do buy their cards (all occasions) rather than new ones.

Cindi, if you lived in Australia you could particpate in the 'Cards 4 Planet Ark' program. Until the end of January and "unwanted Christmas, birthday and other greeting cards and envelopes" can be taken to into any Cole Supermarket. Or pick up a free mailer from participating post offices and send them off. to be recycled into paper pulp for new packaging or 'toilet tissue. Over 500 million cards were recycled in the 2003-04 period accord to Planet Ark.

A similar initiative can be found in the UK, operated by The Woodland Trust in concert with Recycle Now. In January 2005 they managed to recycle 58 million cards (1,150 tonnes worth) by encouraging Britons to drop old cards off at WHSmith high street stores and Tesco Extra and Superstores. The Woodland Trust figure over one billion cards normally end up in rubbish bins, the rquivalent of 55 jumbo jets. This Christmas they promoted the campaign by dressing up TV soap stars in dresses made of cards. (See pic)

But try as I might, I could find no comparable program for North America. It could be I was just looking under the wrong stones. But maybe you'll need to lobby your local recycler to set up an awareness program like those in Australia and the UK.

Of course, if you have paper recycling in your municipality, then you can ensure the paper stays out of landfill and goes on to becomes a cardboard box, note pad or similar. As for those cards with gaudy covers of metallic, glitter, plastic or other such non-paper coatings then you might need to rip these off first s as to not contaminate the other paper.

I do have a friend who routinely cuts the interesting fronts off cards and uses them for postcards, or next years gift tags.

Sorry we were not more help. Do our readers have any bright ideas?