Don’t be silly, of course I’m going to send cards this Christmas. Life is gloomy enough already with Covid threatening to reduce our annual celebrations to a forlorn plate of turkey twizzlers and a lonely slice of chocolate log. Sure, I do send fewer than I used to but it’s my way of telling people far away that I still love and cherish them.
And anyhow, not sending any cards really hits charities who rely on the income. But we need to think about what kind of cards we send.
So charity cards are good, better still buy recyclable charity cards direct from the charity and avoid card shops and supermarkets who absorb much of the profit.
But you know all that, and you know to look for the FSC logo, don’t you? Approval from the Forest Stewardship Council should reassure you that the card is from an approved source, shouldn’t it? Ho hum.
Survival International, where I usually get my beautiful cards, don’t actually credit the FSC any more – in spite of the fact that the card they use is fully certified. This is because of a shocking discovery by Greenpeace. Briefly, a logging company (Rougier) is chopping down a vast area of rainforest in southeast Cameroon. They are doing this as an official partner of the World Wildlife Fund (ironic, huh?) and crucially, without the consent of local Baka “Pygmies” who have lived there in harmony with the forest for centuries. In other words, they are destroying the home of a tribal people.
Beware greenwashing. Yes, beware greenwashing.
But if you’re happy with the ethics of your chosen supplier and you accept FSC certification, look for FSC 100% or FSC recycled – there’s a lot more information here if you want to find out the whys and the wherefores.
Secondly, avoid cards with embellishments – ribbons, badges, glitter – all these make it FAR more difficult to recycle. Really, is anyone going to sit at home in January taking off the bits and bobs? Yeah, I might, but then I’m obsessive!
Next, avoid cards with batteries. Batteries are the devil (I’ve written about them before). And do you honestly think your cousin’s Yuletide is improved by hearing Twisted Sister singing Let It Snow when she opens her card?
Finally – don’t buy shiny cards with patches of foil. I do not believe them to be recyclable, although I found any amount of websites declaring that foil on cards was recyclable with little supporting evidence. There has been a study that seems to show that foil is sustainable but since the study was commissioned by the Foil Stamping and Embossing Association, I’m inclined to regard it as a little on the partial side… call me an old cynic but I once worked in the advertising industry…
And then I found a website called Johnsons Cards who have the grace to tell anyone who passes by that “foils are actually a very thin polyester film carrying a foil pigment.” Ah, it’s our old pal, polyester. A polymer derived from petroleum. Not biodegradable at all, then.
In the interests of further research, I had an online chat with Suzanne, a dear little brunette avatar at The Foil Printing Co. Here is most of it – I’ve added a bit of punctuation and respelled most of it to make us both look slightly more literate. It’s a marvellous exercise in obfuscation and marketing speak.
Welcome to LiveChat
Suzanne – Customer Service Advisor (That’s her above. Isn’t she a cutie?) : Welcome to The Foil Printing Co. If you have any questions just drop us a line. We’d love to chat!
Me: What is foil made of when it’s attached to card?
Suzanne: the foil is a metallic foil that is applied onto the card with a soft lamination that is required for the foiling and this leaves a smooth velvety feel to the item.
Me: Is it actually made from metal? I’m researching for my school project. (I know, I lied. Sorry.)
Suzanne: no sorry shinny foil
Me: Shinny foil? (Shinny!!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist including that misspelling!)
Suzanne: Yes which is called metallic foil.
Me: And what is that made of?
Suzanne: METALLIC FOIL SAMPLE PACK Our metallic foil sample pack has been crafted with an eye for perfection by our talented marketing and design team. It includes everything needed to reassure you that placing a foil order with us will result in some of the most fantastic foiled items you will have laid eyes on. To give you a full rundown you’ll receive samples of all our most popular foil options with our soft touch matt laminate. You’ll also get samples of all our coloured and traditional paper options along with examples of the thicknesses we offer. Since we have over 300 different foil print combinations, you can play mix and match with nearly everything in the sample pack to end up with the perfect foiled print. Ordering your sample pack is a piece of cake. Just give us some info about how you found us, add it to the basket, then checkout. You’ll be able to provide us with the postage details then. / Sorry cannot state this / Description about foiling above https://thefoilprintingco.com/uk/blog/post/metallic-foil-printing-what-colours-can-we-foil/ (Yes, this really was her answer. The oblique slashes indicate a new line within the same paragraph which I can’t replicate here.)
Me: I don’t want to order samples. I’m researching foil cards for a project about Christmas cards. What do you mean, sorry cannot state this?
Suzanne: Read the blog I have attached that explains a bit (it doesn’t, it just tells you about the many colours of foil printing) – cannot say what the foil is made from.
Me: Why, don’t you know? Just trying to understand. Metallic doesn’t mean made of metal? (Remind you of anything? Like “plastic free teabags” not meaning plastic free teabags?)
Suzanne: Do not have the details for this, sorry.
Me: Who can I ask for information?
Suzanne: We do not have the manufacturer specifications
Me: Oh, I see. So you aren’t the manufacturer?
Suzanne: No, we just apply this to the items required.
Me: But it says on your website that foil printing is recyclable, so it’s quite surprising that you don’t know what the foil is made of.
Suzanne: We buy the foil in and do not have the manufacturer specifications sorry.
Me: But your website clearly states that foil is recyclable.
Suzanne: Sorry, do not have any more information about the foil other than what is on the website page.
Me: Hmmm. I think you aren’t allowed to tell me. Bye bye.
Suzanne: Thank you for your time today and have a good day.
Suzanne has closed the chat.
Ho hum. AVOID FOIL AND SHINY CARDS!!!!
Is that all?
Pretty much – but save the stamps. They can make money for charities – and they’re getting scarcer since the advent of email.
And after Christmas?
I’ll give you some tips about how to dispose of them then. FFS, that’s enough for now about Christmas cards!
I haven’t posted for ages. Sorry. Blame Covid gloom.
But I did do something rather exciting. Yours truly was asked to give the opening keynote speech at the LSBU Sustainability and Climate Change Action Event a couple of weeks ago. (London South Bank University). I was so nervous I couldn’t focus on anything else for weeks beforehand, I’ve never been a speaker anywhere before, let alone a keynote speaker.
It’s now up online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCaCRAzfseM&list=PLwuMjzwXhzSeHdfWrMwvFD9Peuv_Iljo5&index=1&t=3260s and if you want to watch my contribution, the lovely Neil Basing introduces me at 23:40 and I start waffling on at 24:10.
Incidentally, don’t just watch mine. There are some wonderful contributions from other people who know a lot more that me. People with PROPER qualifications.
And finally… Her Ladyship poses…
And thanks to Annie Spratt at unsplash.com for her photo of cards which is visible on the website but not on the emails.