Saturday, February 15, 2014

Be my carbon-neutral Valentine

Dear Lilith,

You may be surprised that my Valentine's greeting this year comes to you via email. Don't misunderstand -- I still feel the way I always have toward you. (How's that? For me to know and you to find out.)

Until just the other day, it never crossed my mind how un-progressive Valentine cards are. They are truly a scourge on our beleaguered planet. My ignorance and arrogance on this subject was, I am happy to say, set to rights by an article in The New Republic: "Valentine's Day Is an Environmental Travesty: The Carbon Costs of Greeting Cards."

The socially conscious deep thinker Jeffrey Ball spoke truth to Hallmark Power:
According to the industry’s trade group, some 145 million Valentine’s cards are sold in the U.S. every year. Those cards are ridiculous not just because of the sappy sayings on their covers. They’re ridiculous because, on a planet of seven billion people, it’s nuts to buy a piece of card stock, place it into a paper envelope, and give it to someone who (I love you, honey) will smile at it, stuff it in a sock drawer, and, almost certainly, never glance at it again. It’s even crazier to buy said piece of card stock, drive it to the post office, and have the U.S. mail truck it to an airport and then fly it to its destination. ...

A U.K. company, Britannia Cards, advertises on a set of earth-friendly greeting cards, each bearing a photo of a flower, lion, or some other icon of nature. The cards are “fully recyclable & biodegradable,” the listing says. They’re also “carbon-neutral,” the company says, because the firm has bought enough “carbon credits” — chits representing investments in projects somewhere on the planet that have the effect of curbing emissions— to offset the carbon that’s emitted in making the cards. ...

Leanin’ Tree, a Colorado greeting-card maker, boasts that it prints its cards and envelopes on recycled paper made from trees grown in sustainably managed forests and printed with soy-based ink. “Our products,” the company says on its website, “are made with Mother Earth in mind.”
You know that Mother Earth has always been my significant other, but you are on the short list of co-equal partners as well. And to make the point, I have purchased 15 carbon credits in your name as a token of my commitment to Love of the Environment. Oh, and you too.

I am sure that you understand this change. It's one small step for your Pajama Boy, one great leap for personkind. After all, as Jeffrey Ball says, "The pulp-and-paper industry is a major carbon-dioxide emitter and water user. But an Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman said the EPA doesn’t track numbers for greeting cards." 

If you feel like reciprocating my reformed Valentine's greeting, consider a donation to our organization's lobbying office in Washington to encourage the government to track consumption of greeting cards. We can't get them banned without data showing the inconvenient truth.

Take heart (electronic). We've just about knocked Christmas out of the public sphere. If we can manage that, Valentine cards should go down easily.

I love your social and environmental concerns,



David Foster said...

Isn't there still a printed version of the New Republic?

Rick Darby said...

I believe so. Good observation.

The Jeffrey Ball piece, which reads almost as much like satire as my blog post, surprised me.

The New Republic used to be moderately liberal and not infrequently published worthwhile articles. I've also enjoyed their back-of-the-book sections (film and book reviews, etc.)

Now it seems to have rolled over into the prevailing PC agenda. There is no more moderate liberalism, I guess.