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Guest Thinkers

A Case For Paperless ‘Thank You’ Notes In The Season Of Waste

You’ve gathered up all your quaint eco-wrapping (newspapers and last year’s ribbons), and you’ve put it out with the recycling. You’re getting down to the dregs of the organic eggnog in the fridge. It’s time for your very favorite holiday activity: writing thank you notes. Paperless letters have become the norm for so much of polite correspondence, you muse to your green little self, as you procrastinate by perusing the New Years Eve invites in your email account. If only, you sigh, if only I could send paperless thank you notes, too. Oh, the trees I would save. Oh, the toxic ink and paper dye I’d keep out of drinking water across the United States. Oh, the carbon not released by the already dying US postal service. Oh, the unnecessary and honestly really tacky glitter and other junk they stick on cards these days which I would heroically keep out of landfills!

Alas, you think. It will never, no never, be socially acceptable to go www and cut the carbon when it comes to the thank you note.

But let’s think outside the mailbox for a minute, shall we? Be the change we want to see in the world? The really fun thing about climate change is that it gives you an excuse to see how far social customs and rules can bend! Some options:

World Wildlife Fund: This nonprofit wins the Heartwrench Award for their most popular e-card, “sending you a bear hug,” in which (surprise) two panda bears hug.

Care2: These guys donate to save a square foot of rainforest for each e-card you send. It’s not much, but it’s something.

Paperless Post: This one’s classy, guys. Even your grandmother might be okay with it. They’re for profit, and don’t seem to be particularly eco-oriented, but their cards are a sophisticated low-CO2 option for the more traditional folks on your list. Choose a border, color, image (covered wagon, torah, old fashioned telephone, fireworks, baby rattle, diploma, mandolin, anything you can think of, really), font, personal message, and even envelope liner. The company does mostly invites, but if you design yours right, it’ll look just like the most refined of refined thank you notes.

Environmental Defense Fund: If you’re on EDF’s mailing list, you already received three of their adorable paper cards in the mail this holiday season. You may remember shedding tears when you flipped to the one with a mother polar bear curling up to protect her two cubs? Send the e-version to anyone on your list who can’t resist fuzzy endangered bears.


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