Eco-Friendly Business Cards: A Professional’s Guide

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Business cards are ever-present bits of networking collateral — bought, sold and exchanged by the hundreds. A business card can say a lot about you as a person and a career professional — but it also says a lot about your environmental footprint.

So, let’s talk eco-friendly business cards. Do they even exist? And if so, where do you find them and what properties should you look for? And how about other strategies to create a smaller footprint while also expanding your business circle?

To get into the topic of doing business without doing harm to the environment, we’ll begin by tackling that last question first.

Refuse

As with most environmental approaches, the first way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it in the first place. Increasingly, many freelancers, contractors and other professionals can get away with not having a physical business card at all by using websites, networking sites and even apps created expressly for the purpose.

Haystack App is one such digital savior, designed to avoid the use of paper cards given or received. Simply use the app to create a custom digital business card and then share it with anyone instantly by sending it directly to their smartphone — even if they don’t have the app. It also allows you to save other people’s cards in a digital format so you can easily search for — and more importantly find — their info when you need it.

Even without downloading an app like Haystack, you can choose to take a photo of someone’s card and attach it to their contact info in your phone. One less business card wasted!

Rethink

Business cards are often their most effective when they’re unconventional. If you’re in a creative profession — or an eco-friendly one, for that matter — it’s especially effective to spend a few moments reconsidering what a business card can be. Consider getting a reusable stamp, for example, so that any waste paper or cardboard can easily be made into your business card instead of ordering them premade.

Research

If a DIY business card doesn’t quite give off the polished persona you need to convey in your professional life, many of the biggest business card companies now offer the option to print on 100 percent recycled paper. Just a few minutes of research can yield handfuls of innovative and unique ways to reduce the environmental footprint of your business cards.

Vistaprint, the marketing material giant, offers cards printed on paper made from 100 percent recycled post-consumer waste, with dozens of customizable designs

Offbeat darling Moo offers eco-friendly business cards made from 100 percent recycled cotton — sparing trees and using up wasted material in the process.

And, for an extra touch of green to help your business grow, companies like Botanical Paperworks offer plantable business cards embedded with seeds — when your business card has served its purpose, its recipient can plant it and watch your card sprout and blossom.

If you work in a large corporation, your company may have its own source for business cards, but a quick check with HR or the office manager can reveal whether their supplier offers eco-friendly options. Wading through corporate ordering policies and trying to change them may take a bit more effort than if you could just simply make the choice yourself, especially in larger companies, but the benefit is that the potential environmental payoff is bigger, too. Shifting the buying behavior of a company that orders potentially tens of thousands of business cards every year has a massive impact on the amount of virgin paper being used. It may also trigger a waterfall of other changes, too — like switching to 100 percent recycled printer and photocopy paper, for example.

Reveal

Aside from reducing your own toll on the environment by using recycled or sustainably manufactured business cards, they also provide the perfect opportunity to encourage others to do the same. A small line of text on the back or bottom of your card that states “This card is made from 100% recycled paper” or something similar can remind the recipient of the impact of everyday items we don’t often think about. By doing so, you may just inspire someone else to make a green choice next time they need to order theirs!

There are so many small, simple, eco-friendly changes you can make in virtually every aspect of your life that add up to have a huge impact — your business cards are just one! Each new purchase is an opportunity to question if you really need to buy it, or if you can think of a greener alternative instead; investigate more environmentally friendly options than the ones you’re used to; and help others make these little shifts, too, by telling them about it!

Next time someone asks for your card, stand out by doing it digitally, handing them a card that can grow, or even stamping a coaster. They’ll remember you, and the earth will thank you!

Feature image courtesy of Adobe Stock

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Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.