Last year I took part in a local fashion parade and one of the requirements was to have business cards printed to be able to hand them out to the guests.
I got really excited and my first thought was “I have to do them sustainable!” I started looking for best prices and found out that really sustainable business cards printed on recycled paper with vegetable derived inks would cost me more that a hundred Australian Dollars… Not the price I could afford just yet… The best I could afford was at least to choose recycled paper with minimum quantity of 250 cards. I used maybe 30 or 40 of them… Then some of my details changed and now I have nearly the whole box of cards that are completely useless! And how many others are having the same problem? I bet a lot of you. So that made me think. Do we really need business cards?
Each year 100 billion business cards are produced worldwide leading to the potential loss of around 6 million trees. (1) But perhaps more upsetting is the fact that within a week after receiving a business card, almost 90% of them are thrown away. And it doesn’t matter in that case if they are recycled or go into landfill. They served their purpose and they became useless WITHIN A WEEK! Do we really want to cut down trees for that?.. 42% of wood harvested globally is used to make paper, often leading to deforestation and habitat destruction. (1) The use of so many trees to make paper is of major concern since 50% of all terrestrial carbon is stored in trees – making them a crucial buffer to ward off climate change. Additionally, old-growth and older second-growth natural forests store significantly more carbon than newly-planted forests, and are often much more biodiverse than plantation-grown timber forests – often referred to as ‘Sustainable Forestry’. You can read more here.
I bet very few of us will think about these facts when we add yet another business card to our collection... To throw it away in a week or so...
I started researching what are the options of going business cards free and there are some alternatives.
The first thing I found was a business card mobile App - Pingtro (a combination of ‘ping’ and ‘introduction’) that offers an eco-friendly digital alternative to business cards providing the potential to end the use of paper business cards altogether.
‘Pingtro’ has been optimised for both Android and iOS. To trade business cards, users can manually search for others who have also made their card within the application and send a request. Users on Android can utilise their NFC chips that ordinarily process contactless payments, and simply tap phones to prompt a transfer of cards.
Transferred cards are then stored within an in-application ‘wallet’ and users can opt to then engage in chat, or store audio/written notes to give context at a later date as to how they might have met that person or what follow up actions may be required.
This is not the only business card application, there are others, such as Zap, BizzCards, ScanBizCardst, etc. There are actually a lot of them! Some have an option to scan printed cards to store them digitally, others give no scan function as the final goal of them is to end the use of paper business cards for good.
Another option to go more sustainable is actually transform a business card into something useful so that people do not throw them away. For example, Lady Fortunes company specializes in printing edible business cards on top of their frosted graham cookies. A customer sees the details and when the card is no longer needed eats the cookie. 🙂 Fun and clever! You can read more about other creative business cards ideas here.
I am yet to find a solution that satisfies me, I continue my search for a sustainable way to let people save my details without damaging the trees. And I still need to find a way to accommodate my useless business cards that I have already printed without throwing them into the bin.
For now I am just hand writing my details on any recycled pieces of paper or even fabric that I have at hand. 🙂
Do you have creative alternatives to business cards? Share your thoughts and ideas!