When my mom passed away, it left my two younger sisters and me with a lot to go through – literally and figuratively, but let’s focus on the literal stuff because this a stationery blog. The entire process prompted me to reexamine my own relationship with physical things and inspired me to start living lighter. When you’re ready to start jettisoning clutter, here’s what to do with all those unique greeting cards stashed in your storage area.
This is what your bedroom closet looks like, too, right? RIGHT?!
1. Scan the Important Ones (and Only the Important Ones)
Before you do anything with that old greeting card, scan the sucker into your computer. Often — and it pains me to say this as a stationery designer — scanning only the inside will suffice. That’s the part that contains the best stuff, and I don’t just mean that phat $5 Walgreen’s gift card you get from Aunt Valerie every year. I’m talking about handwritten notes full of in-jokes and waves of familiar handwriting.
Going digital with your greeting cards and letters frees up space and futureproofs these slices of your past. It is virtually impossible to misplace or destroy files you back up to the cloud. Trust me. I have a 5-year-old, and — like a sticky little Yoda — he’s taught me important lessons about what can and cannot be completely obliterated in the time it takes a grown woman to put a plate in the dishwasher. If I could, I'd digitize like 70% of our house until he graduates from high school.
2. Repurpose Them
While scrap paper and kindling are both simple ways to reuse old greeting cards, challenge yourself to do something a little more creative. Give those unique greeting cards new life as postcards. Share that art again! All it takes is a pair of scissors.
OK, and a pen and a stamp and a way to hand the postcard off to the USPS, but you get it. Use your new postcard to send an inexpensive “hello” to a friend or, even better, write your representatives.
Tell those super-old white guys to stop compromising our democracy by building barriers to voting for people of color, the elderly, those with disabilities and students. Also, guac should always be complimentary.
Another easy way for eco-minded all-stars to repurpose old greeting cards is to turn them into gift tags. Cut out the part of the card you want to feature and pierce it with a hole puncher. Thread a ribbon through it, and BOOM! You’re ready to amaze your friends with your Insta-ready, overachieving craftiness all year long.
They don’t need to know you and your boyfriend split an edible and cranked out 20 of those charming homemade Christmas gift tags, assembly-line style, while you caught up on Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. They’ll just be charmed by your artisanal gift tags and commitment to saving the planet.
Those gift tags look shah-mazing!
3. Recycle Them
When all else fails, you can recycle many greeting cards right alongside your other household recyclables. Generally, the only ones that you CANNOT recycle are those unique greeting cards that incorporate:
· Metallic ink
· Embellishments (beads, ribbons, sparkplugs, etc.)
Cards that are printed on photo paper, as opposed to traditional card stock, cannot be recycled either, thanks to the paper’s slick plastic coating.
If the thought of tossing a stack of birthday cards from your great-grandma in a dumpster fills you with preemptive guilt, remember this: The card achieved its purpose. You read it. You reacted to it (favorably, I hope). Releasing it into the pulpy wild now doesn’t invalidate any of that, nor does it mean you secretly despise your beloved Mee-Maw. Time is tight, and so is your space. If Mee-Maw wants to give you shit about it, tell her you scanned the card first, and then lull her into a confused yet peaceful sleep as you explain what a scanner is and how it works.
Unless you regularly take those unique greeting cards you’re saving out to revisit them, consider doing something else with them. As is, they’re not doing anything in your drawer other than taking up space and inviting a family of adorable cartoon mice to move in.
And, OF COURSE, by “adorable cartoon mice” I mean “actual, real-life mice that are hairy and squirmy and want to poop on all your graduation cards.” Now go forth and make some upcycled gift tags! Got any other ideas for what to do with old cards? Drop your advice in the comments below!