Is Sending E-Cards for Christmas Worth It? How Much Do Holiday E-Cards Help the Planet?

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Sending e-cards for Christmas: Touching or Tacky?

In the weekly phone call to my mom, the conversation of Christmas cards came up. We had just been to my sister’s wedding and I had asked her if she had seen if any of the pictures taken would work for this year’s family Christmas letter. No, she had not seen the wedding photos yet, but this year Mom and Dad weren’t going to send cards. They were going to practice what they preach (she and my dad run a green group at their church). Electronic, email cards were going out this year, with a photo attached. This would break the thirty-two year tradition of a family letter, on paper!

I wasn’t surprised then to find out my older sister also decided to skip the paper copy of her family’s letter this year. She was going green too! Well, that got me to thinking. How does this really make a difference to our dear planet, and should I follow the trend too or is it just too tacky?

My sister pointed out that this was going to save on stamps, computer ink, computer paper, envelopes and the gas that the post man uses to his vehicle. All good points. My husband and I send about eighty cards a year. All our supplies cost us about fifty dollars. We send a letter on Christmas paper and a family picture, and from what I know about recycling habits most of the people that receive our letter throw it away into the garbage. For every one hundred pounds of waste we throw away thirty-five pounds are paper (according to the National Energy Education Development Project). At Christmas time, not only paper from cards and envelopes, but wrapping paper, tissue paper, and gift bags go in the garbage too! Plus all the money we’re spending on supplies could be better directed. These funds could instead go towards helping a child in need, a favorite charity, or supporting a family with less this holiday season.

The post man has to stop at our house every day, regardless of whether or not I add some more envelopes to his route, right? Holiday mail makes routes longer, with more mail being delivered. So while the post man will come daily, by increasing his route time gas consumption is increased (and harmful fumes to the air).

E-cards definitely help the environment, but is it worth losing the personal touch? In the discussion with my mom I mentioned how much I like receiving letters in the mail this time of year. In our technologically advanced state, we don’t handwrite cards as often. The mail consists of bills and ads for most people. At Christmas time we have a chance to reconnect and often it’s our only connection to some families and friends during the year. Would taking away the paper copy of the letter and replacing it with a computer copy show we care less?

My conclusion is only based on opinion. We (my husband and I) will join the e-card senders this year. Although we will be losing the paper, that’s all we will have lost. Our address list will remain the same, as will our sentiments in sending the cards. Our love and care for our family and friends doesn’t need to be on paper to be real. And the money we save will go towards helping out someone else instead on card-writing supplies. So, if you want to join us, type away and just hit ‘send’ instead of the red flag on the mailbox.