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Green Christmas cards

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Check out some eco tips that ensure your Christmas cards will give twice.

christmas cards

Credit: iStockphoto

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While the Christmas season typically brings some "ho ho ho's" from the retailers who count on our annual shopping frenzy, the mountains of Christmas cards leave the planet groaning under the weight of our collective best wishes to friends, family and colleagues.

Before you get carried away in the $2 shop buying up Christmas cards in bulk, check out some of the other options that will ensure your Christmas cards gives twice:

Giving cards from the community

Not only are these cards all printed on acid-free, chlorine-free recycled paper, but $1 from each $3 card goes to a school or community group of the buyer's choice. Our Community supports community organisations large and small across Australia, and their Christmas project is a simple way to introduce yourself to their great work. www.ourcommunity.com.au/giving cards.

Saving the world from unwanted gifts

Oxfam unwapped's mission is cleverly executed through Oxfam unwrapped. From bags of costumes for Vanuatu's theatre groups ($12) through to a bridge for a Cambodian village ($675), these are really gifts that keep on giving. Although Oxfam offer free cards with purchase, dedicated greenies will do the planet a favour by choosing the 'e- card' option. www.oxfamunwrapped.com.au

Clean Up Australia go even greener

Clean Up's green Christmas options are wonderful. There are green e-cards for workers to send to employees and colleagues; the Clean Up Our Climate online store has a range of climate-cooling gifts (with everything from pedometers to picnic baskets); and of course there's a real green gift - an e-card accompanying a Christmas donation to Clean Up's work.

Clean Up have even manage to come up with a gift for those who have everything: tickets to send your loved on to lunch with Clean Up's founder, the inspirational Ian Kiernan. www.cleanup.com.au

Preparing for post Christmas

After 14 years and 550 million recycled cards, Planet Ark is ceasing their iconic Christmas card recycling campaign, which recycled 11 million cards last year alone. But it doesn't mean they don't want us to continue recycling!

"When we began cards for Planet Ark 14 years ago people couldn't recycle in their curbside bin. But things have changed. Ninety per cent of Australian's now have curbside recycling, so we're encouraging everyone to do that," says Planet Ark spokesperson, Michelle Cook.

"It's better for the environment to recycle using your home bin, rather than posting envelopes to a central sorting facility, or travelling somewhere just to drop them off," says Cook.

Instead, Planet Ark is launching a new Festive Recycling Campaign, which addresses our Christmas excesses in their entirety. The campaign encourages recycling of cards and wrapping paper, composting of food (40 per cent of landfill is food waste), and most importantly: e-waste.

"Christmas is a time when people update their electronics like Ipods, computers and phones, or kids get electronic goods requiring batteries - e-waste really is the new frontier in recycling," Cook says.

Planet Ark's campaign, beginning December 9, will start to educate the public on how to handle Christmas waste, while visitors to Australia Post after Boxing Day will be able to pick up recycling bin stickers. Not only do the stickers promote the national recycling hotline (1300 733 712) and www.recyclingnearyou.com.au, but they have a handy place to label your bin, in case the neighbours take a liking to it.

As for those Christmas cards, if you don't recycle them, reusing them is even better for the planet: "Nursing homes and schools often use them for crafts, and they can be composted," says Cook. www.planetark.org