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A little more green: A holiday series

October 10, 2009

Photo credit: Keith Scott Morton

Commitment #3: Send a Christmas e-card.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
with every Christmas card I write.

I love cheery Christmas cards and colorful photos. Last year, in an effort to save time and money, I created an online e-card for the holidays. One year later, I’m really glad I did and I’m excited to create a new one this year!

I remember watching my mom handwrite dozens of Christmas letters on yellow legal paper when I was a kid. There’s something warm and personal about it… something you can’t replicate in a Xeroxed newsletter or electronic card. I hope to make time in the coming year for more personal, written communication to long-distance loved ones.

But not for our mass Christmas mailing.

A few reasons I really loved our e-card:

  • Flying snow on the pages until mid-January (totally cute, right?)
  • Quick links to our family blog
  • Very recent photos can be used since they don’t need to be printed and assembled for mailing weeks in advance
  • Big, bright photos and pages (for free)
  • Easy to share with all our family, friends, and co-w0rkers (not just the few we can afford to send a card to)
  • Easy for our friends and family to share with our other family and friends not on our email lists
  • Saves money on newsletter printing, cards and envelopes, photo printing, and postage (which I estimate to be at least $60 for us, depending on how many we would send and what type)

This year, I was inspired by one blogger’s suggestion to take the saved costs of an e-card and put that toward a charity. With all the costs I calculated, I think that could really add up for us. Scott and I will pick a charity we want to support this year and start a new tradition for our family.

Since some of our relatives don’t use email or the Internet, I’ll print a few full-color paper copies of the e-card to mail with a handwritten note. Maybe something like this…

May your days be merry and bright…
And may all your Christmases be white.

Here is where my post ends for those of you interested in only the “money-saving” portion of my “green” holiday series.


And now to get all “green” (as in “eco”) on you…

  • 1.7 billion Christmas cards (the amount sent in Britain alone each year) equates to about 200,000 trees.
  • In 2005, the U.S. Census estimated that 1.9 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. each year. Another 200,000+ trees, this year alone.
  • “They’re just trees”… But in recent years, we’re finding out that trees have a direct correlation to our health and well being. For example, kids that live in tree-lined streets and in the suburbs have a decreased risk of asthma.
  • In the U.S., childhood asthma rates have increased by 50% in the last 25 years (similar increase worldwide). Asthma rates are highest and most damaging (resulting in hospitalization) in poor, urban settings.
  • Trees filter out pollution and can even reduce the severity of asthma attacks in kids. When we start cutting down trees, especially in impoverished and polluted regions, we put children at risk.
  • Not only does a lack of trees hurt us, but the very process used for creating paper is incredibly harmful to us. The EPA reports that “pulp and paper mills are among the worst polluters to air, water and land of any industry in the [U.S.].” This is true of paper-making worldwide.
  • Some will argue that “trees farms” (not forests) supply a lot of our paper. However, there is a lot of evidence that old-growth forests are still being cleared worldwide to feed our paper dependence. It’s estimated that as much as 95% of America’s old-growth forests have been cleared already, and 80% worldwide.

It’s not just the Christmas cards, obviously. And it’s not just the wrapping paper.

But these are two things I can control, areas where I an reduce my use this Christmas season. So in the next 11 weeks until the big day, I’m finding other ways to wrap gifts and send cards. And I look forward to reading those special Christmas greetings from our loved ones, in whatever form they come.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
just like the ones I used to know.
Where the
treetops glisten,
children listen to hear
sleigh bells in snow.

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