Holiday E-Cards: Good Green Sense or Impersonal Mass Mailing?

Tis the season to spread holiday goodwill – and show your customers and employees your appreciation for their business and hard work. Many companies give gifts or bonuses, but a simple, inexpensive way to send tidings of good cheer is to send a holiday greeting card. Now the question is – do you send a traditional paper card, or an e-card?

The environmental argument for sending e-cards is overwhelming. Eliminating the expense of buying paper cards and postage, print deadlines, and the labor involved in signing, addressing, and sending them is compelling all by itself. Factor in reducing the carbon footprint generated by not sending cards and the “greenness” of sending holiday e-cards can’t be refuted. It saves businesses time and money, which is important in today’s economy.

E-cards also allow businesses to easily customize different designs and messages to different audiences and track who views the card. Some e-card companies, like Care2, even allow senders to make donations when they send e-cards.

Print Cards
So – is there even an argument for print cards? It depends on what is more important to you – the environmental or emotional impact of your card. So much of business is done online that people’s email boxes are barraged with dozens of incoming emails each day. Your holiday e-card will be competing with other pressing business concerns. It could be perceived as either welcome change, or additional inbox clutter.  Add the mercenary aspect of tracking who views the card, and a holiday e-card can seem less jolly than calculating.

Most people know that email cards are inexpensive (or free) and take very little time to create, address and send. Sometimes being part of a quick mass mailing is not the message you want to send to employees that have worked hard for your business all year or clients who have thrown significant business your way. Unfortunately, thoughtful and personal are adjectives most people will not attach to an e-card. An email just isn’t the same as a physical card with a personal message and signatures from your staff or c-suite.

Recycled print cards can mitigate the environmental impact, but there is a still a significant difference between sending e-cards and print cards. Companies like Pleasantrees offer recycled cards that also plant three trees for every holiday card ordered, but even that most likely doesn’t make it an even race.

So – what is more important to your business this holiday? Did you send a personal, but environmentally inefficient print card, or a strategic, inexpensive, low environmental impact e-card? Let us know which way you went and why.

Happy Holidays!

Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. You can reach her at and @anewell3p on Twitter.