Christmas cards are wasteful (Jan10)

The Jeremy Vine Show wanted me to have a pair of scissors ready for my interview. The idea was to record me, Blue Peter style, cutting up my Christmas cards so I could use them again. Listening to the programme afterwards, I don’t think the scissor cutting was audible! But the message about re-using Christmas cards was very clear.

Now that Christmas is over you’ve probably forgotten all about the frantic preparations. But I’m baffled by how much people worry about Christmas cards. The concern is that they’ve not managed to send out any this year or not enough. There’s a simple answer to this conundrum – don’t send them. I don’t.

If you’re very determined that you could try pruning your list. For example, I think it’s particularly wasteful to hand out cards to people you see all the time – or send them to local friends. An example of this is at my children’s school. They come home with piles of cards from their school friends. Another example is the cards you get from local suppliers and businesses –
the post office, the local printer shop etc.
Email cards are becoming more popular. I’m quite in favour of these, particularly if they’re funny or they’re backed up with a donation to charity.
A card in the post can be a treat though, if it’s got some news inside – and perhaps from someone you don’t see very often. I do like hearing about what friends have been up to. And generally those are the ones I respond to. After Christmas I cut up my cards – use the picture side to send out thank you notes and recycle the other side with my cardboard. If there’s any news I put it in my box of letters – I’m a bit of a collector.
My radio interview also covered re-using wrapping paper, which is another one of my foibles.
All of this might appear to be rather pointless and trivial but perhaps not when you consider that we throw away over 3 millions tonnes of waste over Christmas. This includes an estimated 1 billion cards, which is an average of 17 each and 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper. So I hope you’ll sending out fewer cards next year and using your scissors on the ones you receive.

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