Sunday, December 02, 2007

Greeting Cards - Is Recycling a Waste?

One of my favorite pastimes is converting old junk mail and old cards into "new." I'll take a cute saying from a card, mix it with the front of another, and include a gum wrapper ("Stay sweet!"). I take little scraps and glue them together into a design on the front of a card. I use the patterned insides of envelopes to make more cards and bookmarks and gift tags.

After all, recycling is good. All that paper would have gone to the recycling bin. Reuse is always preferable to recycle - less energy involved.

But then my mother pointed out that while reusing and recycling are both good, the whole concept of card-exchange is a somewhat wasteful exercise. Isn't the act of giving out things of paper something we don't necessarily want to encourage? Why should I assist people in giving out a million holiday cards to people they only write once a year? Why should I give a birthday card when a genuine Happy Birthday will do (and the card will be most likely tossed the next day)?

For me, making cards is something I feel the need to do - my hands need the activity. I want to save something from the recycle bin, and at the same time make something of beauty.

I think I'd like to strike a balance. Make only beautiful, functional, useful cards, or make them for people who might give them anyway, or to encourage the very act of recycling paper (after all, billions of virgin paper cards are still made and sold every year!).

In my ideal world, people would only ever exchange reused/recycled cards, and they would reuse them until they fell apart, until they put them into the recycling bin. They would exchange beautiful cards only for geniune sentiments, not mass communication (Do I really need a holiday card from a national phone company?).

Until then, I'll still be making some recycled cards, especially out of things that cannot be recycled easily, and I hope they will be things of beauty.

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