Updated: Apr 11, 2020
All the time, I see things that are simple little things and see how unsustainable they are. One of the things I was thinking about earlier was gift cards. I don't get it. How can they get away with all of the processing it takes to make gift cards worth essentially nothing? Think of all of the plastic that is tossed out. Just because the company knows that people don't use the entire balance on gift cards all the time. That's why they have "no cash value". How many times have you ended up with a gift card with less than a few dollars on it and had to either buy more than what the card was worth, or tossed the card without using the last little bit of money on it? Its a great money maker idea for businesses! but for the consumer, gift cards are a horrible idea. they end up making you spend more money rather than saving it.
If there was only one reason that you shouldn't give people gift cards, and it was because they'd end up sitting in a landfill or floating around in the great pacific garbage patch, I feel like that's still enough.
But you know what kinda sucks is that you almost can't avoid it. Credit card, gift cards, coupon, marketing material, even just ads that are in print filling your mail box. All of it gets thrown out pretty fast. I hate having so much junk lying around that I truthfully don't need. But unfortunately, choosing to use less of these is only partially our choice as citizens of a consumerism world. I mean, I get it.. I have gift cards, membership cards, coupons, handouts, etc. all over my house.
Sustainability is more about a balance of the needs of people, the needs of the planet, and the financial needs of the company. I believe that each company using gift cards should do an honest analysis of the waste produced by gift cards, and weigh that carbon footprint against the money they make by selling gift cards. Who knows, maybe some interesting results would present themselves.
Either way, the solution to this problem might start with using online gift cards perhaps, but truthfully, I think we just need to be aware of the waste we produce, and make choices to avoid creating the waste in the first place. Check out this post on sustainable gift cards.
Its really interesting to me that the solution to gift card waste might be something that benefits everyone. In the post I linked to above, some gift cards can be made of recycled woods, card board, recycled plastics, biodegradable materials, plant based materials, or, best of all, simply digital.
If you have the choice to buy a gift card that's made of a sustainable material, choose that one!
Thanks for reading!