This year, I decided to create the first ever digital Holiday Card for my business. Numerous headlines about the Paris Climate Agreement and the alarming evidence of natural resource depletion, finally got dire enough for me to examine my own holiday customs. I reached the tipping point. (Thank-you, New York Times Editors!) What can I do through my business in even a small way to stop the cycle of holiday consumerism?
For the last several years, the annual mailing of the holiday card has been a fun tradition for me – taking photos all year of gardens and my dogs Bella, Arthur and Suzie, then choosing the photos that would make the cut, perusing the Shutterfly card layouts, heading to my local Post Office to purchase holiday stamps and finally, sitting down with a cuppa hot tea and some German Christmas Stollen to write the cards to my friends, clients and suppliers.
This December though, new words started popping up in relation to these cards – supply chain, carbon footprint, source material, chemical processes.
I hit the internet to do some research.
According to an article in ecology.com:
- Nearly four billion trees worldwide are harvested each year for paper.
- The world consumes 300 million tons of paper each year.
- The United States which accounts for 5% of the world’s population consumes 30% of the paper worldwide.
- Wood pulp comes from softwood trees: spruce, fir, pine, larch and hemlock.
- According to the EPA, pulp and paper mills are some of the worst polluters to air and water and land of any industry in the country with millions of pounds of toxic chemicals toluene, methanol, chlorine dioxide, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde released into the air yearly from worldwide paper plants.
Suddenly, my cheerful holiday card wasn’t looking so merry anymore. Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis), and recently the American larch (Larix laricina) are two of my favorite trees. While walking my property or hiking Catskills trails, I regularly I hug giant old hemlocks like the ones in the photo above. Sure, my team plants thousands of native plants each year for pollinators and local ecosystems but these statistics on the paper industry somewhat negated all of that. My holiday cards were dooming hemlocks to be cut down for paper that after it spews pollution forth into our environment most likely gets tossed out at the end of December to enter a landfill. Not a good enough reason to keep on doing the same old thing.
So, after a bit of back and forth – mostly my consumerist Western Self being petulant: I like this tradition, my friends and clients are used to receiving my annual card, it is fun! – I decided to go paperless.
Here’s hoping you all agree. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Kwanza. Joyous New Year. Go hug a tree. Better yet, plant one.