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.
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!