Illustration © JacquieLawson.com
While the production of greeting cards ranks relatively low among current threats to nature, the paper, plastics, inks, manufacturing, and printing it typically involves do have an environmental footprint via the harvesting of trees and the toxic byproducts generated from the creation of inks and dyes and from the manufacturing, printing, and packaging processes. To minimize that footprint, a variety of options is available.
The most environmentally friendly option is to eliminate the use of physical materials altogether — no sourcing, no processing — by sending one’s wishes digitally instead. But in these Covid days when so many of us are interacting primarily digitally already, texts and emails can feel a bit lackluster. E-cards take digital communication up a notch, but the quality of what’s on offer is generally disappointing, and some e-cards have annoyingly garish graphics and sounds. An exception I’ve found is the distinctive designs of Jacquie Lawson which are, in my humble opinion, second to none in terms of artistry, warmth, and elegance.
The image at the top of this post is a screen shot from an animated Jacquie Lawson “Woodland Wonder” autumn e-card my mother-in-law sent me a few years ago, one of many I’ve received from Lawson’s online shop that not only are arrestingly beautiful but also radiate delight and tenderness. The selection of e-cards to choose from is extensive (numbering in the several hundreds), most with themes involving nature, pets, and/or the comforts of home, as well as film-quality animation sequences accompanied by soothing music. A $20 annual membership fee (or $30 for two years) is required to send these e-cards, during which time the member is entitled to send an unlimited number of e-cards from the collection, set up automated birthday reminders, schedule e-cards to be emailed to recipients on a specific date, and create an online address book. Although I’m highly partial to paper cards, I will say that I’ve received a couple of e-cards from this service that were so magnificently presented that I became choked up even before I read the messages they contained. These e-cards can provide the perfect solution when the availability of printed cards (or the time/energy to procure them) is scarce.
That said, there are a couple of eco-friendly print card designers I especially like. One of these, who I discovered at the 2019 National Stationery Show in New York City’s Javits Center, is Little Gold Fox Designs. Each paper card (one of which is pictured at left) is handmade in Portland, Oregon with paper that is 100% recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified and has a provenance from sustainability-focused mills and suppliers. Plastic protective sleeves are biodegradable and plant-based. The designer also offers a line of wood cards printed on sustainably harvested wood veneer with surfaces that take up a variety of ink types with remarkable ease and smoothness (as I discovered earlier this month), packaged in a recycled kraft envelope. Last year, I ordered a set of “Leaping Stag” holiday cards that looked even better when they arrived than in their website photo. I love the uniformly high quality of the cards this designer offers.
Tree-Free Greetings also deserves recognition for offering a panoply of attractive and sustainably produced cards ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous (one of the more humorous is shown at left) — all of which are manufactured in New Hampshire using chlorine-free 100% recycled paper, 100% solar-powered print and production, VOC-free products, and vegetable-based inks. Its envelope paper is produced from 80% reclaimed wheat straw, an agricultural by-product. The website also offers holiday card sets with 100% bamboo packaging. As manufactured cards go, Tree-Free Greetings strikes a good balance between eco-consciousness and aesthetic appeal.
Can you find an opportunity to experiment with a nature-friendly card this week, or to place an order for the holidays? This is a simple action we can take to help preserve and protect our environment.