This article is presented in partnership with Minted

As the holiday season invites cooler weather, warm peppermint drinks, and festive parties, so too does it invite the annual tradition of sending out holiday cards. But, if you’re mindful of the resources used to keep this tradition alive, you know that it requires a large amount of precious resources.

In fact, Stanford researchers found that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards reportedly sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. 

So, how can we balance a beloved tradition and eco-conscious values? 

If you’re eager to send out some holiday cards, stationery, or even wedding invitations (without the added guilt of your paper or energy usage), there are plenty of great sustainable options out there. 

We’ve put together some helpful information and narrowed down your search for the most eco-friendly holiday cards on the market — hopefully making it a little easier for you to send your most thoughtful and sustainable holiday cards ever.  

By the way, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Short on time? Here are our top 3 picks for eco-friendly holiday cards:

  • Minted: Uses FSC-certified recycled paper with versatile designs by independent artists, and powered by renewable wind energy.
  • Artifact Uprising: Uses high-quality 100% recycled paper and powered by renewable wind energy.
  • Paper Culture: Each card and envelope is made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper; for every order made, the company plants a tree.

Are paper products actually bad for the environment?

Between January 2022 and October 2022, the world produced more than 333,000,000 tons of paper
Between January 2022 and October 2022, the world produced more than 333,000,000 tons of paper / Graphic courtesy of The World Counts

We’re willing to bet that it’s not the first time you’ve heard someone equate paper use with “killing trees.” While many have made the eco-conscious decision to opt for digital alternatives, how bad are paper products (like holiday cards), really? 

According to The World Counts, globally, we produce 420,000,000 tons of paper and cardboard annually — that’s two pieces of paper for everyone on earth every single hour. That’s a lot of paper. Like, a lot. 

Unfortunately, our paper usage does indeed kill trees — but it impacts a lot more than that. Paper production contributes to environmental issues, like air and water pollution, agricultural waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and the (often overlooked) displacement of rural and Indigenous communities. 

In fact, the paper industry accounts for about 26% of total waste in landfills and is the largest single industrial consumer of water in Western countries.

We’re not trying to convince you to ditch paper, though! (We love when paper is printed responsibly … I mean, our team works hard to sustainably produce a monthly physical good news newspaper after all!)

The good news is that paper is recyclable and can be responsibly sourced and produced. 

According to The World Counts, each ton of recycled paper can avoid the use of:

  • 17 trees
  • 1,440 liters of oil
  • 2.3 cubic meters of landfill space
  • 4,000 kilowatts of energy
  • 26,500 liters of water

So, can we all agree that opting for recycled paper when shopping for the perfect fridge-worthy holiday card is a must if we’re trying to be environmentally conscious this year! 

What makes a card environmentally friendly?

First and foremost, the most eco-friendly option is the one you already own! Look around your place, take inventory of what you have (like construction and scrapbook papers), and get crafty with it to make a new card of your own. 

But, if you’re looking to send out physical cards this year, here are a few things to consider:

Tree-free

Tree-free

Look out for holiday cards made out of 100% post-consumer paper (aka recycled paper). Alternative materials such as seed paper, cotton, sugar cane, hemp, or linen are also popping up as alternative tree-free options. Though bamboo is another popular choice you might come across, many debate its sustainability

Embellishment-free

Embellishment-free

The most eco-friendly holiday cards are printed on 100% recycled paper without any embellishments (aka all of the fancy finishes like foiling and embossing). Opting for the least amount of embellishments makes it easier to recycle your cards when you, or your loved ones, are ready to toss them out. 

Responsible production process

Responsible production process

You’ll likely see “FSC-certified” throughout your eco-friendly holiday card search; that’s a good starting point. Forest Stewardship Council certifications (or FSC-Certified) paper products have less impact on the environment by using sustainable sourcing or post-consumer waste. 

The FSC is a global network of over 1,000 individuals and member organizations that work in a democratic system to find solutions to safeguard healthy, resilient forests around the globe. 

Though it has faced valid criticism, we find its certification process helpful for understanding brands’ thoughtfulness regarding their paper sourcing. 

Company background and initiatives

Company background and initiatives

While this isn’t a requirement for companies, it’s an added bonus when a brand not only provides its customers with earth-friendly options but also supports organizations focused on addressing climate change. 

Some greeting card companies do a great job of pointing out their commitment to sustainability through their use of solar or wind energy, recycling programs, or labor practices. If all of this is important to you, dive into a company’s policies — often found in its website's “About” or “FAQs” pages.

Using our holiday card purchases as an excuse to support businesses and organizations caring for people and our planet is definitely good, good, good.

Low-impact ink

Low-impact ink

Another factor to consider is the type of ink used to make your cards. Many companies have now been offering algae-, soy-, and other vegetable-based inks — which are less harmful to the environment than the standard petroleum-based inks. 

Best eco-friendly holiday card options this season

Minted 

Several red holiday cards with photos on them
One example of holiday cards from Minted / Photo courtesy of Minted

This article is presented and supported by Minted — and as a part of that, we were able to test out the Minted shopping experience and holiday cards to add a brief review to this particular section. Everything in this article was independently and honestly written by the Good Good Good team. Thank you!

What’s good: Minted is a marketplace with unique designs by independent artists. The company uses 100% recyclable packaging that is made from over 80% recycled, post-consumer waste or plant-based materials. 

Minted’s holiday cards are available with recycled paper options, made with FCS-certified 100% post-consumer waste for a smooth matte finish, and are all manufactured with wind power! It’s the coolest thing to know that something as simple as an annual card hanging on our refrigerators can be solely produced with sustainable resources. 

Whether you’re in the market for holiday cards, professional stationery for your own business, or invitations for an upcoming Holiday party, you can choose recycled options from Minted and mail them mindfully.

In fact, all recycled paper options are optimized for the highest photo print quality, so you can feel good about the visual aspect of your purchase, no matter what you pick.

If you’re into some premium options, Minted also offers wax seals, custom foil for personalized names, and real foil envelopes and envelope liners. You can also take things digital and use Minted’s app to address your envelopes with ease or even create a holiday card website to share videos, letters, and more photos with a free QR code on the back of your cards.

Holiday card options: 

Price: Check current prices

Custom holiday card featuring a dog, with the words "This is Joy"
I created a custom holiday card, featuring my joyful dog Duffy, via Minted's simple website / Photo courtesy of Amanda R. Martinez for Good Good Good

Amanda’s thoughts: I have to admit, I’ve never been a holiday card kind of gal. But I was genuinely so surprised by how simple and fun it was to go through this process. 

The template I chose was “THIS” by Lauren Chism — which allowed color and font customizations. I loved that this card was designed by an independent artist, offered an eco-friendly option, and did the tedious work of addressing my envelopes for me (for free)! 

If you’re indecisive (like I am), Minted offers a “Find it Fast” feature that allows you to simultaneously see your photo in every holiday card design. You can also text your photo to CARDS (22737) and a Minted Design Associate will text you back with five card options!

Shop Minted’s Holiday Cards

Artifact Uprising

A unique photo-focused holiday greeting card
/One example of holiday cards from Artifact Uprising / Photo courtesy of Artifact Uprising

What’s good: What makes Artifact Uprising so exciting is that the same company that creates Pinterest-worthy, high-quality prints, and photo books, is also the same one creating beautifully designed eco-friendly paper goods (like holiday cards). 

Each card is printed on premium quality, 100% recycled paper, with a recycled kraft envelope option. All the electricity used to manufacture the paper is matched with renewable wind-generated electricity. I guess you could say that these cards will… blow your loved ones away (sorry).

Holiday card options: 

Price: Check current prices

Shop Artifact Uprising’s Holiday Cards

Paper Culture

Christmas photo cards in unique wide shapes
/hcarOne example of holiday cards from Paper Culture / Photo courtesy of Paper Culture

What’s good: Paper Culture is your one-stop shop for modern, eco-friendly paper goods that also give back. Each card and envelope is made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper; for every order made, the company plants a tree on your behalf. So far, Paper Culture has planted over 1 million trees (and counting). 

Paper Culture also works with domestic and international organizations to aid in reforestation and offset its carbon footprint through carbon credits. The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the company’s environmental efforts as a Top 10 Climate Leader and Certified California Green Business.

Also, it takes mailing your holiday cards off your plate! 

Holiday card options: 

Price: Check current prices

Shop Paper Culture’s Holiday Cards

Botanical Paperworks 

A seed-paper card that says 'Wishing you a blooming holiday season'
One example of holiday cards from Botanical Paperworks  / Photo courtesy of Botanical Paperworks 

What’s good: Sure, recycling is great, but what if your annual holiday cards could help your loved ones grow their own gardens? Botanical Paperworks, a woman-owned business, offers a collection of holiday card seed paper that grows into wildflowers, herbs, or vegetables — all tested to make sure it’s free of weeds and invasive species. 

The company’s products (which also include wedding invitations, favors, and confetti) are approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture for planting in the U.S., Canada, European Union, and other places around the world.

Holiday card options: 

Price: Check current prices

Shop Botanical Paperworks’ Holiday Cards

Tree-Free

Several examples of colorful illustrated holiday cards, focused on Christmas and peace on earth
One example of holiday cards from Tree-Free / Photo courtesy of Tree-Free

What’s good: Tree-Free’s idea of good tidings? Being good to the planet. Every card is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, printed free of volatile organic compounds (also known as VOC-free) inks, 100% powered by solar energy, and made in the U.S.

Annual Tree-Free purchases save over 3,000 mature trees, 1.5 million gallons of water, and 210,000 pounds of greenhouse gasses. The company also donates 25% of its revenue to causes protecting our planet.

Choose your favorite card, personalize your message, and leave the mailing part to them!

Holiday card options: 

Price: Check current prices

Shop Tree Free’s Holiday Cards

ForeverFiances

A family photo card for New Years
One example of holiday cards from ForeverFiances / Photo courtesy of ForeverFiances

What’s good: ForeverFiances offers a selection of premium, plantable, seed-embedded holiday greeting cards and 100% recycled paper. The company is FSC-certified which is a good indicator that its products are responsibly sourced from forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.

ForeverFiances has also pledged 1% of its revenues to nonprofit organizations supporting environmental causes, including Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and charity: water.

Holiday card options: 

Price: Check current prices

Shop ForeverFiances’ Holiday Cards

Paperless Post

An illustrated holiday card that says Falalalala
/hcarOne example of holiday cards from Paperless Post / Photo courtesy of Paperless Post

What’s good: We can’t talk about earth-friendly options without mentioning the elephant in the room: paperless digital invitations! Paperless Post was one of the early pioneers in this space that saw the value in reimagining invitations and cards — aka finding ways to make our lives a little easier. 

Today, it offers two distinct digital options: cards and flyers. Its cards are inspired by the classic stationary design that we’re familiar with — except customers can send them in minutes via email, text, or a shareable link. Its flyers are more casual (animated!) invitations that you can also send in a matter of minutes — with hundreds of free designs. 

To eliminate the need for paper altogether, Paperless Post gives those who love a good traditional card or invite a modern way to reach their loved ones — not to mention it's a great way to track those pesky RSVPs!

Holiday card options: 

Price: Check current prices

Shop Paperless Post’s Holiday Cards

Greenvelope

A family photo card that says Merry Christmas
One example of holiday cards from Greenvelope / Photo courtesy of Greenvelope

Greenvelope is a Seattle-based company on a mission to save paper and preserve the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Eco-friendly at its core, Greenvelope was founded to create digital invitations that would provide all of the fun of traditional cards without any of the waste that comes with them. 

The company’s online stationery templates are handpicked by its in-house design team, who work with the global Greenvelope community of stationers, illustrators, calligraphers, graphic artists, and painters. 

Through partnerships with the National Forest Foundation, Mountains to Sound, the National Park Foundation, and 1% for the Planet, this online card and invitation service does more than save paper.

(Explore more products that give back to our national parks in our National Parks Gift Guide)

Holiday card options: 

Price: Check current prices

Shop Greenvelope’s Holiday Cards

Other Christmas card and greeting card ideas

If you haven’t already started to pick up on all of the amazing options we have today, we thought we’d throw in a few others that can easily be overlooked or under-utilized. 

Etsy

Several illustrated sustainable holiday cards
One example of sustainable holiday cards available on Etsy / Photo courtesy of Etsy seller 'ADaytoRememberStudio'

If you enjoy your fair share of online small business shopping, you’ve more than likely turned to Etsy for a bit of guidance in the past. With its seemingly endless amount of small businesses, you can find some of the most beautiful and creative eco-friendly holiday cards and e-cards

It's also a great place to find niche cards like this cat variety pack made out of recycled material and produced using wind power and this Sasquatch holiday postcard that plants a tree for every 10 postcards sold.  

The advantage of shopping through this marketplace is the wide variety of designs and value-specific options each individual seller focuses on.

Don’t send a card

Yep, you read that right: don’t send a card this year! Even though we love to support incredible businesses and designers pushing the envelope when it comes to providing consumers with sustainable options, another option you can also consider is simply not sending a holiday card out. 

There’s a lot of internal and external pressure tied to sending out these annual updates, but if you don’t have the capacity to send them out, give yourself permission to skip the tradition. (This goes without saying, this option will save you the most amount of time, money, and paper.)

Post on social media

Channeling your holiday card spirit into a social media post might be an obvious idea, but we often overlook it (or don’t give it enough weight). Save yourself the stress and get your loved ones in the festive mood by sharing fun photos and a sweet message through your social media account.

Buy secondhand

Oh, you’d be surprised by the amount of unopened (or opened but never used) boxes of holiday cards sitting on thrift store shelves or secondhand online marketplaces (like Facebook and eBay). Regardless of what kind of paper, ink, or production processes were used, you can feel at ease that your decision to purchase secondhand diverted them from going into a landfill.