The phrase 'Merry Christmas' was first recorded in 1534 when an English Catholic Bishop wrote a Christmas letter to an Earl who was later beheaded by the King. But it wasn't until the mid 1800s when the phrase 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' became a staple saying on gift cards, at the hand of Charles Dickens and Sir Henry Cole.
Billions of Christmas cards are sent each year, with the UK reaching numbers as high as 900 million per year: a whopping 16 cards per person. This is about 45% of all greeting cards sold in the UK throughout the year, equivalent to 300.000 trees.
But the amount of trees cut down for sending our season's greetings is not the biggest problem. The production and distribution processes do more harm. From the lorries driving to the paper mills, to toxic printer inks used on the cards themselves. Also think of the trains, planes and vans that deliver the cards, and the plastic wrappings / glitters used to package and decorate the cards. After Christmas, most of these will end up in landfill, where they can't decompose properly.
This all seriously harms our mother earth, and we need to take better care of here.
So what can you do to lower the carbon footprint of your seasonal greetings?
- Go online. There are many online post services, from 2050Cards to Paperless Post
- Buy cards that are compostable
- Make your own cards with compostable papers and inks
- Get cards from recycled paper
- Deliver your cards yourself (which is obviously easier for a small town in the Netherlands than a big city like London)
- Buy your cards from a charity that helps the environment (or any other good cause)