November 24, 2019 4 min read

My mind often spins when I look at the amount of waste created in the world and this is definitely something that I thought about a lot when starting Nicely Done Cards. Bringing another product into the already large industry of greeting cards begs the question how will this be recycled? And can it be recycled? Well first we need to look into how a greeting card is made. And this actually explains why some cards cost more than others. You’ll note that the average price of a greeting card at Nicely Done Cards costs £3, which is significantly higher than what you would find at your local post office, and there is a reason for that. The quality of the card used often dictates how much the card is, if it is thick card with no plastic shine to it, it will probably be more expensive than a thinner card that has plastic in it. Where the card is made will also be a factor, if it is made in England, manufacturing costs are higher than places in Asia. The majority of greeting cards sold for under £2 have a high amount of plastic within the card making it non-recyclable as it is a mixed material. The cards stocked at Nicely Done are all FSC certified or recycled card bringing the carbon footprint of the card down massively and more often than not, meaning that the card is recyclable.


FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council and allows businesses and end consumers to use paper and wood with the knowledge that it has come from well-managed forests and/or recycled sources.


Foilin, which is the metallic shine seen in parts of a greeting card design can be confusing but there are different types of foiling which effect how a card can be recycled. The majority of greeting cards use hot-foiling methods and this means that once you are ready to part ways with your greeting card (sob), you can recycle it as you usually would without worrying about it being a mixed material because of the foiling on or inside the greeting card.


You may have noticed an increase in greeting card catches/ or greeting card clasps being used on greeting cards instead of the ‘traditional’ plastic sleeve that usually keeps the greeting card and envelope together. Obviously this is down to people wanting to reduce the need for single use plastic and at Nicely Done Cards we welcome this with open arms. Single use plastic has no home here! But this also created a demand for plastic sleeves that can be classified as compostable or biodegradable. These are things that Nicely Done Cards aim to steer clear of. In order to compost effectively, your compost bin must have the right balance of food waste, grass and only a very small amount of coffee cups/compostable plastic. Too much and your ‘eco’ plastics will not break down correctly and you’ll essentially have created an open outdoor bin in your back garden. Far from ideal, I’m sure you’ll agree. There are definitely people in this world that can compost correctly but there are many who won’t and so this is the reason we do not use compostable plastic wallets on the cards sent out from Nicely Done Cards as we fear they will not be recycled correctly.


Biodegradable sleeves used on greeting cards and envelopes give the impression to the end consumer that they are recyclable but from my understanding, these are even worse. As they actually break down into miniscule pieces of plastic that then spread everywhere, we inhale them, we walk them unknowingly into homes, and the air picks them up and carries them around the world. But because we can’t see them, we think the job is done. It’s also worth noting that bio-degradable plastic still takes 3-6 months to fully breakdown and this is all dependent on it’s environment. For example, the temperature will speed this up/slow it down. But if you think about it (and you could try this at home) if you were to keep a biodegradable bag on a table in your home, it will remain in tact for years. This just shows you how important the settings must be for the plastic to start to degrade.


Glitter on greeting cards or wrapping paper means that it cannot be recycled, unless all of the glitter has been removed. Christmas is savage for the environment in many ways and this is one of them. Greeting cards with decorative elements on them such as glitter, ribbons, bells, or electronic noises cannot be recycled as they are. They must be taken apart and then they can be recycled. The same goes for metallic wrapping paper and any wrapping paper that has sticky-tape on it. Some people use the ‘scrunch method’ when figuring out if they can recycle the wrapping paper or not. If you scrunch it and it easily stays scrunched, it can probably be recycled. But anything with a metallic finish or a thick shine on the paper probably needs to be put in the general waste. The same goes for laminated paper.


All of our packaging at Nicely Done Cards is either recycled paper or can be re-used. We don’t use any stickers or tape when packaging the gifts within the gift boxes and instead use cotton ribbon to hold the parcels together. This way both the tissue paper and the ribbon can be reused for future presents or can go into the craft box.


Going forward, when wondering if you are buying a recyclable card, check to see if it has a shine to it. If it does, it may not be widely recycled. Check to see if it has the FSC logo on the back, if it does then you know that there is a strong chance it is able to be recycled. And finally, if in doubt, shop at an independent shop. Owners at independent shops tend to know their stock inside-out and will usually hold the answers to your questions.