[Ed. – Bonus rant against Hallmark!]
Sure, you could criticize on environmental grounds all manner of small pleasures, such as eating burgers, or driving gasoline-powered cars, or drinking frostily refrigerated beer (all habits in which I happily engage). Yet sending a greeting card is worse as an example of personal carelessness, because its greener alternative is so painless and, indeed, so much more convenient. I don’t like veggie burgers, I can’t afford a Tesla, and I hate warm beer. But forsaking a paper greeting card for an emailed Valentine? I’m pretty sure I—as well as my family and you—could live with that.
Reason is no match for emotion, of course, so it’s no surprise that the dead-tree greeting-card industry continues to thrive. Sentimental pastimes die hard, and greeting cards aren’t Superfund sites. Still, the continued survival of the greeting-card tradition neatly underscores why it’s so difficult to affect far bigger environmental change. At the very least, it suggests people are being less than honest when they tell pollsters they’re interested in making environmental tweaks in their lives, even tweaks that are easy and cheap. It’s hard to believe large percentages of Americans will abide a stiff carbon tax when they’re not willing to stop using throw-away pieces of shiny cardboard to send their love notes. …
Whatever the number, it wasn’t on the mind of a gray-haired man browsing the Valentine’s card aisle at a California bookstore one afternoon this week. He was hardly unthinking about the environment; he wore a bright yellow cycling jacket and held the helmet he wears to commute to and from work. He was there to buy several cards, one for each member of his family. The man, who wouldn’t give his name, said he tried emailing Valentine’s cards years ago but soon returned to paper because his relatives assumed when they got the emailed greetings that he had forgotten to buy them a real card. “The best you could do is email?” he recalls them saying.
The aisle he was browsing that afternoon brimmed with Hallmark cards. One was bigger than most. Its shiny red cover was sheathed in protective plastic. Its two inside flaps were trimmed in velvety black fabric. Its back cover bore this message: “Visit Hallmark.com/ourplanet. This card is made with recycled paper.”
The website lists a host of environmental moves undertaken by the big greeting-card maker: excess food at employee cafeterias is donated to local food banks; sawdust produced in making card-display stands is recycled; paper used to make cards sold in North America comes from forests certified by third parties as sustainably managed.
[Ed. – Grrr. grrrr!]