About those adorable Christmas Cards…

The Artz Family, November 2009
The Artz Family, November 2009

Last year, I would have liked to use protecting the environment as an excuse for not sending out the annual Christmas card, but the truth is I just ran out of both time and inclination. But that year off gave me quite a bit of time to think about Christmas cards, what they mean, and whether I could live without them in the name of less waste and less greenhouse gasses.

I couldn’t find a precise estimate of what the environmental impact of all these Christmas cards floating around actually is, but if you imagine the millions, even billions (one site in the UK estimates a billion cards sent in the UK alone!) of cards that are produced and then mailed around the globe, the impact cannot be small, even if you opt for recycled paper cards and avoid glitter & foil, which render the cards non-recyclable.

I love one UK company’s idea to produce edible Christmas cards, and Treehugger has some ideas for greening your cards, but I’m not going to do either this year.

Boy, do I sound like a Scrooge. A close friend actually threatened me with bodily harm if she didn’t receive a lovely card with pictures of my children this holiday season. And I don’t want to let anyone down, especially during this, my all-time favorite season of the year. But jeez, people, what do you do with these cards once you get them? Do you lovingly paste them into scrapbooks, or do you display them on the fridge for a few days/weeks and then trash them?

So, in an effort to reduce our holiday environmental impact, and along with other measures (reusing the children’s artwork for holiday wrapping paper, using cloth wrapping where we can, eating a mostly-local meal on Christmas day, and trying to avoid some of the rampant commercialism that goes with the Hallmark version of this holiday), we will not be sending Christmas cards this year.

It is not because we don’t love you. It is not because we’ve given up celebrating the holidays (in fact, believe it or not, I have quite a few holiday posts that I simply have not had time to write up until now). It is because I think this is one holiday tradition that we can give up without really missing out on anything. Let’s face it, 95% of the people on our Christmas list are friends on Facebook. So you’ve already seen this picture anyway, and better yet, get almost daily updates on what we’re up to all year long instead of just what we can cram into a one-page Christmas letter. Here’s an example of how social media can actually help the environment–by replacing the annual Christmas card.

I will understand if, after reading this, we get nixed from your Christmas card list. I hope you will provide an electronic copy, because I really do care about what you’ve been up to and want to see the pictures of your precious little ones. But I’m not going to relent on this one.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!
With warmth,

3 thoughts on “About those adorable Christmas Cards…

  1. I am not sending out Christmas cards either….I dramatically reduced my number of cards last year and then this year I “realized” that the people I keep in touch always get pictures or see pictures or get cards. Besides, I don’t like the pressure of having a holiday where it is practically mandatory that I send something! So this year, I am starting my own new tradition….but I can’t tell you since you will be included!

  2. I hear you (and thank you for sending me the pic of your adorable sons–I love it!). But this ties into another thing I’m struggling with and that’s pictures in general. I have thousands (literally) of printed pictures and have no intention of either scrapbooking them (I used to be huge into that) or organizing them in the future. So the cute Christmas cards would get added to that unmanageable pile (and have–I can’t bring myself to toss any photo cards, ever. I have all of them, going back years).

    So, as with everything, one seemingly-small item like Christmas cards ties into 100 other things I’m trying to get a grip on, and it ends up being a lot more than a tree or two that are at stake. Again, totally my issue and not anyone else’s, and I certainly don’t mean to judge people who do send out cards!!!

    I’m considering a holiday-themed video message that we could send out. I’m also considering the nut house 😉 So what else is new?

  3. Humph. Too bad I read this after I sent my card so it’s too late to cross you off my list! 😉

    To me, environmentalism is a balance. I treasure cards and pictures from my friends and loved ones. I put them all in my keepsake box every year. The problem with facebook is that 30 years from now I can’t pull it out and go “ah, yes! I’d forgotten…” and have that smile returned to my face. So I send cards and I love to receive them. We still have a large contingent of friends and family we keep up with via X-mas card and birth announcements and I’d be crushed if they just dropped off the face of the earth in the name of the environment. Seriously, it’s worth a tree or two to me to keep up with people I love. Unless I print a copy there’s nothing concrete to remind me of an e-interaction. Sure, eventually my kids will throw it all out…but we can’t nix all things that bring us joy because they’ll end up in a landfill some day.

    The cards from businesses I could TOTALLY do without though. What junk and what a waste!! I rec’d one today, covered in foil, thick paper, foil-lined envelope and I swear I have no clue who this business is. Never heard of them before receiving their obscene card. THAT is a waste. THAT is what needs to stop. In my opinion 😉

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