Resource Guides, Zero Waste Living

Over 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards

Updated October 26, 2022

According to Hallmark, 1.3 billion holiday cards sent EACH YEAR in the US. And since that stat is coming from one of the most well-known card companies, I believe it. And no, we’re not talking the eco-friendly-holiday-card-types yet.


For those in the UK, you’re not off the hook. According to the UK Greeting Card Association, 1 billion Christmas cards were sold in the UK in 2017.

According to the USPS, average card costs range between $2 – $4, which means that Americans spend a lot of money on cards – many of which not only use virgin materials (trees), but also end up in the landfill. 

I want to break this down a little more, so bear with me. It’ll be quick, I promise. 

The EPA estimates that of the 250 million tons of municipal solid waste generated in the United States, 31% of that was paper. I realize this doesn’t translate to holiday cards specifically, but the point is, Americans throw away a lot of paper. And when we circle back to the fact that much of that paper comes from trees (vs recycled paper), it gets overwhelming. 

I won’t get into the fact that we need trees, because I’m guessing you know that. 

All of this to say: yes, cards can be a large source of paper (trees), but there are ways to partake in card-sending traditions and stay eco-friendly.

So……





Is it environmentally (eco) friendly to send Christmas/holiday cards?

We kind of answered that question above, and like most things in the sustainability realm, the answer is not clear cut. But they can be – especially if you’re opting for eco-friendly cards made of recycled materials, or e-cards. But know that even ecards have a carbon footprint.

The carbon footprint of an e-card vs a physical card

“The average email has just one-sixtieth the footprint of a letter, according to a back-of-the-envelope comparison. That looks like a carbon saving unless you end up sending 60 times more emails than the number of letters you would have posted in days gone by. Lots of people do. This is a good example of the rebound effect – a low-carbon technology resulting in higher-carbon living simply because we use it more.”

When it comes to purchasing and mailing physical paper cards, the average amount of CO2 emissions per person is 5kg, or 11 lbs (source). This number is for conventional cards – with no “eco” modifications.

So what about email?

According to The Guardian: “The average email has just one-sixtieth the footprint of a letter, according to a back-of-the-envelope comparison. That looks like a carbon saving unless you end up sending 60 times more emails than the number of letters you would have posted in days gone by. Lots of people do. This is a good example of the rebound effect – a low-carbon technology resulting in higher-carbon living simply because we use it more.


The exact amount of CO2 a single email emits varies widely depending on a number of factors. However, we can look at an average “email with a large attachment, which puts about 50 gCO2e into the air. Five such messages are like burning about 120 grammes (0.27 pounds) of coal” (source).


You could sit around for a few hours calculating if physical cards or e-cards are better for your eco-friendly holiday card needs, but honestly, don’t waste your mental energy. Both options are going to have an impact, so pick the one that fits your resources the best, and go from there.

General tips for picking out eco-friendly Christmas cards

If you’re set on sending cards (and don’t feel bad, it’s one of my favorite holiday traditions), here are some additional tips for selecting eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards: 

pass on the mixed materials: mixed materials such as paper, foil, vellum, etc make it much harder to be able to recycle the finished product. When looking for cards, opt for ones that are made with 100% recycled paper. 

-skip the glitter and the foil: cards with glitter and foil can’t be recycled, so skip these materials all together. Additionally, glitter is made out of plastic, and can easily get into bodies of water. It can also break down into microplastics. Glitter = not so eco-friendly.

opt for sending a postcard: some companies offer eco-friendly Christmas/holiday postcards, so you can save on the extra paper (and cost to ship)

opt for recycled paper if possible: yeah, I keep saying this. But it’s important. So do it. 

buy local: supporting a local small business, especially if that business is BIPOC and/or women owned, is always a sustainable thing to do! Look for handmade cards made with regular paper (so they can be recycled) to up the level of eco-friendly-ness if you can’t find eco-friendly Christmas/holiday card options.

look for soy-based inks: soy-based inks can reduce air pollution during production, and soy is a renewable source. They are also much easier to remove during the recycling process, ensuring more materials can actually be recycled. (source)

choose plantable paper: many card companies these days offer paper made with seeds, so after you’re done enjoying the card, you can plant it and grow wildflowers or vegetables. While I love the idea of this, most of the time the seeds are wildflowers. However, unless you’re purchasing from a local company that knows which species are native to your area, you may find that you are introducing invasive species to your area. I tend to personally stay away from these options because of this reason (unless I’m planting in a pot).

don’t overbuy: Have you ever ended up with a ton of extra cards at the end of the year? Yeah…me either (kidding.) Be really intentional about how many cards you’re buying so you have just enough but not too much. We’re talking Goldilocks here.


-reevaluate your “send” list: to go along with the tip above, be sure to reevaluate your “send” list each year. Do you really need to send a card to your fourth cousin once removed that you’ve only met once?

Now that we’ve got the general tips out of the way, without further ado, I’ve searched, researched and compiled a list of companies that sell eco-friendly Christmas/holiday cards (and most other holidays and themes), as well as a large list of e-card companies so you can decide what fits best in your holiday traditions and values!

Side note: For most of my list-type posts, I write a paragraph or so about the company, what they do, etc. But since this is a post on cards, I’m going to assume you realize they all sell cards. Instead, I’m just going to list company highlights to be aware of!

Related post: 85+ eco friendly stocking stuffers for women, men + babies, kids, tweens & teens





Physical Eco-friendly Christmas and Holiday Cards

TLDR, or, My personal favorite and most recommended

I get it, sometimes you have decision fatigue or feel overwhelmed by the options or just want a recommendation from someone with a place they’ve used in the past. If this is you, here’s my recommendation:

Paper Culture

I’ve been using Paper Culture for years and I LOVE them (this year will be our fifth year ordering!). Their cards and envelopes are made with 100% recycled paper or bamboo, soy ink, and each order plants a tree. Plus, they have a large variety of styles, and the card quality is great year after year. 10/10 would highly recommend!

Here are some additional highlights:

-They offset their carbon footprint

-They are certified as a green business

-They also sell photo books and other photo-type gifts

Related post: A Minimalist and Zero Waste Advent Calendar (with 58 Kindness, Traditions, and Activity-Based, Non-Candy Ideas)

My personal favorite honorable mention

If I had to choose an honorable mention for my favorite eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards, it would be:

Soak it up Cloths

Soak it up Cloths are a great option if you’re looking for a gift and card all in one. That’s because these are Swedish Dish Cloths, but in card form. If you’re not familiar with Swedish Dish Cloths, they are a fully compostable/biodegradable cloth that is meant to replace paper towels. They’re totally awesome.

Soak it up Cloths

I bought and sent Thanksgiving and Holiday Soak it up Cloths during COVID to my friends and family. Since we couldn’t get together with them, I wanted to send them a little something special, and these did just the trick.

Honestly, these are perfect for friends, hostess gifts, family, and more. Two birds, one stone.

A list of over 30 eco-friendly Christmas and holiday card companies

1 Tree Cards

Company highlights:

-Company is UK based but ships internationally

-All cards are 100% recyclable and plastic free and made with 100% recycled FSC certified and fully-traceable material from within the EU

-All inks vegetable based and are vegan

-1 tree planted for every card sold

-Each card comes with a plantable seed token

Artifact Uprising

Company highlights:

-Cards are made with 100% recycled paper

-Lots of card categories and style designs

-Also offer photo gifts 

-Other materials for items such as wooden calendars and books are made from reclaimed materials 

Aya Paper Co.

Company highlights:

-All cards are printed on 100% PCW recycled & PCH chlorine free paper

-Envelopes are made with 100% recycled kraft paper

-Cards and envelopes come in a kraft paper box

-Black woman owned



Arbor Day Foundation – Give a Tree Cards ® 

Company highlights: 

-Cards are made with 100% recycled paper

-Each card plants a tree

Botanical Paper Works

Company highlights: 

-Cards and other products are made with 100% plantable seed paper

-Different seed options such as flowers, herbs, and/or vegetables

-The only seed paper approved by the USDA to be free of invasive plants and noxious weeds 

-The paper base is compiled of post-consumer waste from schools and businesses 

-They use biodegradable corn plastic as packaging



Buy local – farmer’s markets, arts/craft shows, etc.

Changes are high you have a card maker in your local area. Buying local is great because it not only helps support those in your community, but it allows you to ask about the materials they use! 

Cards for Causes


Company highlights:

-Some of their cards are made with recycled paper (note: the company isn’t super clear about how much of the paper is recycled, but in order for the recycled label to be used, at least 30% has to be recycled)

-20% of every order goes to a charity of your choice 




Earth Hero

Earth Hero is like an eco-Amazon. While they don’t have a huge selection, they do have a few options! Sustainability options vary by maker, but if you do a search for ‘holiday greeting’ you’ll get many options! 

I personally love these cute ones

Discount code: 10% off with code: LAURAD10 [not case sensitive, can’t be used on sale items, can’t be paired with other coupons, can’t be used on Gift Cards, TerraCycle boxes, Zeal Optics, or Naturepedic products]

Etsy

Etsy is a great option because there are so many different makers to choose from! I’ve pulled together different search options based on certain criteria below. Sustainable materials used will vary from maker to maker. 

eco christmas card

recycled christmas cards

plantable holiday cards

compostable holiday cards

Black owned shops



Fair Trade Winds

Company highlights: 

-Eco-friendly cards made with recycled paper

-Fair trade 

-Green American Certified Business

-Fair Trade Federation Member

Related post: 37 places to shop for ethical and eco-friendly gifts

Forever Fiances

This company only seems to offer holiday cards for corporate companies, but I wanted to include it in case you’re in charge of that for your work. 

Company highlights: 

-cards made of 100% recycled paper

-the company is part of 1% of the planet

-Offers a plantable paper option



Good Cause Greetings


Company highlights: 

-Some cards are made with recycled paper

-10% of card proceeds go towards charity 

Green Field Paper Company

Company highlights: 

-cards are made with 100% recycled paper 

-cards contain no chemicals or dyes

-they have card categories such as cards made with: junk mail, recycled paper, plantable paper (grow a note), hemp

-is a Green America approved business



Greet for Good

Company highlights: 

-Some cards are made with 100% recycled paper

-a percentage of card price goes to a specific charity (differs base on charity)


Little Green Paper Shop

Company highlights: 

-UK based, but ships internationally

-Offers many different types of seed papers, and paper made from elephant and reindeer poo (yes, poo)

-All cards and other paper products are made with 100% biodegradable and plastic free materials


Live Inspired – Positively Green Line

Company highlights: 

-They use soy ink and FSC®-certified paper for all their cards

-Their positively green line is printed at a press that is run on wind energy

-A portion of all sales from their positively green line are donated towards environmental organizations

Minted.com

Company highlights: 

-Default option not on recycled paper, but can purchase for a bit more

-tons of designs and varieties 


 



Postable 

Company highlights: 

-cards and envelopes are made with 100% recycled materials 

-this company will address, stamp, and mail the cards for you




Ten Thousand Villages 

Company highlights: 

-cards are made with eco-friendly materials 

-fair trade

-World Fair Trade Organization member

-Fair Trade Federation member

Tree-free Greetings

Company highlights: 

-the company uses solar and wind energy for their business 

-cards are made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper

-envelopes are made with 80% recycled wheat straw, an agricultural by-product 

-the company is working with their suppliers to become carbon neutral 

-the paper the company uses is bleach-free


Twigs

Company highlights: 

-Cards are made from recycled and 100% PCW paper that is FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) Certified

-From the Twigs website: Rather than using carbon or nuclear energy, our paper is produced with biogas, which is the energy released from decomposing landfill waste that is captured and used for production at the paper mill. This reduces CO2 output by thousands of tons each year.”  

-Orders are shipped plastic-free, in mailers that are recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable

-All inks used are non-toxic and eco-friendly

Worthwhile Paper

Company highlights: 

-Uses water-based screen printing inks

-All cards made with 100% recycled paper from a mill that operates on hydro-power

-Implemented a recycling and reuse program

-All orders include one tree planted, and ship plastic free



Thrift Store

Believe it or not, your local thrift/second hand store can be a great place to find cards – and for a great price! You can often find new boxes of holiday cards, whether donated by someone or leftover from the previous season at a big box retailer. If you’re out thrifting, definitely work taking a look!

DIY

If all else fails, you can always try and make your own! This can be especially meaningful if you have kids. Pinterest is a great resource for finding inspiration, patterns, and more. Tip: to make DIY cards eco-friendly, you can reuse materials such as old cards, kids artwork, and more. 



Holiday Ecards/ Virtual cards

Holiday ecards can be an eco-friendly alternative to sending paper cards if you don’t want to do paper ones. For this section, I’ve included the starting price, and any notable pieces about the company and what they offer. 

American Cancer Society

Price: Starting at $55 for 100 ecards. 100% of the proceeds go towards the American Cancer Society 

American Greetings

Price: A yearly membership costs $19.99 which provides you with unlimited ecards. Otherwise, the cost is $4.99 a month. There is a free, seven day trial. 


Animoto 

Make your own videos or slideshow to send friends and family in lieu of a traditional card!

Price: Free

Blue Mountain

Price: A yearly membership costs $19.99 which provides you with unlimited ecards. Otherwise, the cost is $4.99 a month. There is a free, seven day trial. 



Greenvelope

Donates a percentage of every sale to Mountains to Sound, an organization that maintains forests. 

Price: Starts at $39 for up to 40 people

Greet for Good

Price: varies since a portion of the cost goes towards charity 



JibJab

Price: there is a free membership option with access to a limited number of e-cards. The premium membership cost $24 a year, billed all at once. 

Paperless Post

Price: This site assigns a ‘coin’ cost to each card. Coin package prices start at 25 coins for $10 (get your first 25 coins free by signing up for an account)

Related post: Have yourself a merry, zero waste Christmas

Punchbowl

Price: A free option (with the inclusion of ads on each card), otherwise membership starts at $7 a month. A free trial is available. 



Smilebox

Smilebox not only has not only ecards, but they also have slideshows!

Price: There is a free plan, but costs $5 a month to share via email

Eco-friendly Christmas cards for businesses



What can I do instead of sending eco-friendly Christmas/holiday cards? What are some alternatives?

Not sure if traditional holiday cards are the direction you want to go? Here are some alternatives:

Postcards: Postcards require less paper, are cheaper to send, and just as fun! 

DIY: I mentioned this above, but making your own cards can be a great alternative. Plus, it’s a great activity to do with kids

-Make a video: dance, sing, or just say your holiday greetings to friends and family. you can make it as fancy or as simple as you’d like

Write a simple letter: sometimes, you don’t need the fancy cards to send a message. Opt to use paper you already have on hand and write a handwritten note to your family and friends

Use kid’s artwork: Speaking of kids, using kids artwork can be a great way to cut down on paper clutter while also sending something personal during the holidays

-Newsletter: my dad creates a multi-page newsletter as a PDF and sends it to family and friends via email. He also gave each of us kids a flash drive so all versions can be saved





What do I do with old Christmas/holiday cards?

Ok, you send holiday cards, you get holiday cards….what do you do with all those old cards? Here are some fun ideas!

-Cut them into gift tags for gifts

-Frame them

-Use them again/upcycle them

-Cut them up and use them for a vision board

-Send the card fronts (without writing) to St. Judes to be turned into new cards. Please note they cannot accept Disney, Hallmark, or American Greeting brands

-Make small books of all the cards you get each year (my mom did this with us when we were kids!)

-Cut them out and make ornaments

You can check out other ideas here

Where is your favorite place to get eco-friendly Christmas/holiday cards?



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[…] Related post: 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards […]

Taylor
2 years ago

I love this idea! I’ve been thinking about selling holiday cards, so this is all really great information to consider! And I wouldn’t have even thought about e-cards having a carbon footprint. Thanks for all of this info!

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[…] companies that sell eco-friendly cards so you can pick and choose one that fits your needs/values! You can check it out here. The list includes physical cards and […]

Breanne
Breanne
2 years ago

Wow, so many places to get eco-friendly cards! Thanks for the ideas! I’ve been trying to be more sustainable and this will be very helpful for the holidays.

Cate
Cate
2 years ago

This is the best card list I’ve ever seen, thank you so much! Quite frankly, I hate getting cards of any kind (I hate gift wrap too ahhhhh)!!! Because… what a pointless waste. This list is great for alternatives.

Christina Henry
2 years ago

I’m always looking for ways to be environmentally friendly so these are great ideas

Therese
2 years ago

I love these options. I’m especially a fan of those where you can donate a portion of your proceeds to a cause.

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[…] Related post: 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas/holiday cards […]

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[…] Related post: 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards […]

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[…] Fun family photo: start a tradition where you take a fun family holiday photo somewhere meaningful. Tip: planning on sending cards? Check out 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas/holiday cards. […]

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[…] Related post: 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards […]

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[…] Related post: 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards […]

Marcie MAXFIELD
1 year ago

Where can I get the: Fa La La La Land card pictured in this article?

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[…] Related post: 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards […]

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[…] Related: Over 30 places to find eco-friendly Christmas and holiday cards […]

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