10 Best Green Holiday Cards To Send This Year

Forget single-use paper and plastic glitter—send these upcycled (and recyclable!) cards instead.

November 27, 2017
unicef green cards
Photograph courtesy of Unicef

The holidays are the perfect time to reach out to people you haven’t seen in a while and send warm wishes near and far. The problem is that greeting cards can be a real nightmare. Beyond tracking down addresses and picking a photo where the whole family looks good, traditional greeting cards leave a nasty mark. Billions of holiday cards are sold each year in the U.S., and most are made from virgin paper and toxic inks that end up piled in the landfill come New Year’s.

(Brag your love of gardening with the Organic Life 2018 Wall Calendar, featuring gorgeous photographs, cooking tips and recipes, plus how to eat more—and waste less—of what's in season.)

But don’t worry, there are plenty of sustainable options so you can send your good tidings without the stress or negative environmental impact.

More than anything, what your cards are made from matter. The cards below are all made without foil or glossy photo paper so they can be recycled when they’re done being enjoyed. They’re also glitter-free since glitter is typically made from plastic and is impossible to recycle (not to mention to get it out of your house or off your skin).

Don’t buy one of those cheap advent calendars made with foil and plastic either—make your own festive DIY version:

From recycled paper to upcycled fabric to e-cards that feel like the real thing, you can’t go wrong with these seasonal greetings. 

paper culture green cards
Photograph courtesy of Paper Culture
Paper Culture

Your friends and family will want to keep your holiday card up year round thanks to Paper Culture’s modern, minimalist designs. Made with post-consumer recycled paper and paper alternatives, their photo cards are fully recyclable. Or you can leave the selfie stick behind and choose from one of their beautiful illustrated designs. Even better, paper culture offsets their carbon emissions and plants a tree for every order. And did we mention that they will address, stamp and mail your cards for you?

Shop now: paperculture.com, from $1.39/card

paperless post green cards
Photograph courtesy of Paperless Post
Paperless Post

Forget everything you thought you knew about e-cards. Paperless Post brings high class and the feel of a printed card to the digital world. Their e-cards are completely customizable and fast to put together. Whether you choose a photo card or one of their gorgeously illustrated cards, it’s hard to find a greener way to send holiday cheer.

Shop now: paperlesspost.com, choose from free cards, or pay 30 cents a piece for premium options

smock green cards
Photograph courtesy of Smock

Made in upstate New York, these spirited holiday cards are sustainably letterpressed on bamboo paper and snuggled into 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper envelopes. Opt for single cards or the pack of 30 to get the most sustainable and recyclable packaging. (Go the handmade route for your ornaments too—check out these old-fashioned ornaments you can buy on Etsy.)

Shop now: smockpaper.com, from $50 for 30 or $5 for 1

greenvelope green cards
Photograph courtesy of GreenVelope

Your party deserves more than a lackluster Facebook event page. Invite your friends in style with a designer e-card worthy of your festivities whether it’s an ugly sweater party or a black-tie New Year’s bash. Not only will you skip the paper invites, but Greenvelope also donates a portion of every sale to Mountains to Sound, a nonprofit that helps protect and maintain forests. While you’re at it, you might as well send out a quick holiday e-card too.

Shop now: greenvelope.com, from $9/set

lovewild green cards
Photograph courtesy of Lovewild

Let your love grow. Each Lovewild card is handmade from recycled paper pulp and wildflower seeds before being letterpress printed in Brooklyn, New York. When your recipient is done enjoying your note, they can plant the whole card come spring and watch the wildflowers sprout.

Shop now: lovewilddesign.com, from $6.50/card

Related: 9 Creative Ways To Recycle Gift Wrap

artifact uprising green cards
Photograph courtesy of Artifact Uprising
Artifact Uprising

Even selfies look professional and glamorous when artfully placed on an Artifact Uprising card. The clean designs and 100 percent-recycled (and recyclable!) photo cards add polish without sacrificing your ethos. Give something a little extra with their new 2-in-1 photo cards that come with a handy, detachable gift tag.

Shop now: artifactuprising.com, from $1.25/card 

minted green cards
Photograph courtesy of Minted

Good news: Minted’s eco-friendly line of holiday cards are printed on FSC-certified, 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. The thick paper itself is manufactured in the U.S. with wind power by a family-owned company. The matte printing maintains your photos’ rich colors without sentencing it to the landfill. Just be sure to skip the tempting foiling to ensure your card can end up as a new one next year.

Shop now: minted.com, from $1.30/card

Related: 7 Perfect Gifts You Can Find At The Thrift Store

oblation papers green cards
Photograph courtesy of Oblation Papers
Oblation Papers

Skip the trees altogether with these simple, wind-powered cards. Oblation Paper makes many of their cards from recovered cotton waste from the garment industry. Soy inks, citrus solvents, and solid ink technology mean the company generates 90 percent less waste than most color printers.

Shop now: oblationpapers.com, from $2/card

wunderkid green cards
Photograph courtesy of Wunderkid

Zero wasters rejoice! Wunderkid offers ‘Zero Landfill Orders’ which means that nothing ends up in the trash to create your card. Production waste is instead recycled, reused, repurposed, or upcycled. The cards themselves are made from textile manufacturing waste, and a portion of each order goes to a tuition fund for the high school or college student artist who created it to help them pay for higher education.

Shop now: wunderkid.co, from $4/card

Related: 3 Upcycled Holiday Gifts You Can Make From An Old Flannel Shirt

unicef green cards
Photograph courtesy of Unicef
Cards that Give Back

Each year charities like UNICEF release greeting cards that support important causes around the world. These cards from UNICEF (pictured above), for example, help provide important medical services to children. Greet for Good and Cards for Causes also have cards that support non-profits around the world. Check with your favorite charity to see if they have cards that will help support their work.