Greeting cards

Greeting cards

The greeting card, an ages-old medium of communicating mostly happy but sometimes sad sentiments, is entrenched in our society: more than 90 percent of American households buy at least one greeting card annually and the average household purchases 30 cards each year. All told, Americans buy almost 7 billion greeting cards annually, representing close to $7.5 billion in retail sales.[1]

Of the estimated 3,000 greeting card publishers in the US, Hallmark controls approximately half of the retail market and American Greetings has about 35 percent.[1][2] If the 7 billion cards purchased each year in the US were combined with the more than 2 billion cards bought in the UK and lined up end to end, they would encircle the world 54 times.[3] So although greeting cards aren't particularly large in size, their sheer volume has an environmental impact, especially during manufacturing and disposal.

Like most forms of paper, greeting cards impact the environment adversely both during their disposal and production alike, initially consuming virgin resources (trees, water, fuel) before ending up in landfills as part of the approximately 83 million tons of paper waste generated by Americans each year.[4] Paper production is responsible for about a fifth of the total wood harvest worldwide, and about 93 percent of today's paper comes from virgin trees.[5] Though the pulp and paper industry has made great strides over the past 20 years, there are still significant ecological effects in the process of making paper products, especially those products made from virgin trees. In addition to tree loss, the virgin timber-based pulp and paper industry is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming pollution, with carbon dioxide emissions projected to double by 2020.[6]

Another environmental downside to manufacturing greeting cards is the use of toxic printer inks and fixing agents. Cards made with soy-based inks, that are chlorine-free and made with recycled paper (the higher the post-consumer content the better) carry a much lighter environmental load. Greeting cards can be recycled in communities that accept mixed paper in their recycling programs, and if done in large numbers, each ton of recycled paper results in 3.3 cubic yards less landfill space used.[7]

The top US card-sending holidays

The typical person receives more than 20 cards per year. Christmas tops the list of the most popular card-sending holiday with more than 60 percent of all individual cards sold around that time.[1] During this holiday season, Americans create an average of 25 percent more waste than usual from extra packaging, giftwrap, etc. to the tune of 1 million additional tons each week between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.[8] Nearly 300,000 trees are cut down to serve as raw material for the approximately 1.9 billion Christmas cards sent each year—enough to fill a football field 10 stories high.[9][10] But if all Americans trimmed their card list by only one card, the savings would amount to 50,000 cubic yards of paper.[8]

  1. Christmas - 2.2 billion cards sent (boxed and individual cards)
  2. Valentine's Day - 187 million (excluding classroom valentines)
  3. Mother's Day - 151 million
  4. Father's Day - 104 million
  5. Easter - 77 million
  6. Halloween - 31 million
  7. Thanksgiving - 27 million
  8. St. Patrick's Day - 12 million[11]

External links

Comments

02/18/2010
8:20pm
bubblegumgirl

an easy way to make cards is to paint on a big piece of paper and then just cut out shapes from that big painted paper. better still, let your kids do the painting !

07/08/2010
3:13am
Xavi

when I was a kid I was so glad getting any greeting card! nowadays in the era of digital stuff I prefer getting animation gifts or just favourite songs found by http://www.mp3hunting.com search engine. that is not hand-made, but it is cheeper and qiucker.

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