The Unglitzy Truth About Greeting Cards

Silver stars. Golden frames. Glitter! 

Simple paper cards and envelopes are recyclable. But when bling gets added to the mix, the recyclability of greeting cards takes a hit. 

Here's what to avoid: 

1. GLITTER - In any amount, glitter is a no-go for recycling.  Made from tiny specks of metal or plastic, glitter is too small to be screened out during the recycling process.

2. FOIL - Foils can be any color with a smooth, embossed, or crinkled texture. Foils get their telltale shine from a layer of metal that’s laminated onto the paper. Because no one wants metal in their paper, cards with foil can’t be recycled. 

3. METALLIC INKS - Metallic inks are made with tiny metal flakes. So for the same reason as foil, paper with metallic inks shouldn't be recycled. 

4. ADORNMENTS - You probably know where this is going. Ribbons, beads, velvet, and other plastic bits become contaminants in the paper recycling process. 

5. PHOTO PAPER - Photos printed directly on cardstock can be recycledbut cards on photo paper cannot. Photo paper usually contains a plastic top layer to protect the images from humidity and water. Because of this plastic, please keep photo paper out of the recycling bin.  

TIP: Often the back of cards can be recycled even if the cover can't. Tear off the glitz, and recycle the rest.

Moving forward

When purchasing cards and wrapping paper (the list above applies to all paper products), look for items that are recyclable and also made with recycled and/or sustainably sourced paper. 

Opt for 'post-consumer' recycled paper products when available, the more recycled content the better. 'Post-consumer' means the paper was made, at least in part, from paper products that were recycled by the end user (consumers like you and me or businesses and institutions). 

Digital, zero waste cards

Tried e-cards?  What they lack in tradition, they make up with surprise and earth-friendliness. And they can be especially useful, and cost-effective, for integrating family photos. Many companies offer customization down to the virtual envelope lining. E-cards are a simple way to make someone's day without an ounce of paper waste.  

Upcycling inspiration

So what about cards that aren’t recyclable? Upcycling to the rescue! May you never need to buy another gift tag.

Gift tags 


Greeting Card Wreath 

Advent Calendar

FYI: We called St. Jude's Ranch and found out they no longer accept used greeting cards for crafts or resale. Their supply runneth over. 

If you know of any organizations who are still accepting used greeting cards, please share them with us on facebook, twitter, or email us and we'll update this post.  Thank you! 



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