Everybody loves getting a birthday card on their big day. It’s our standard way of letting others know that we’re thinking about them on their birthday and giving them a sweet or humorous message. However, every time you give a physical birthday card, you’re contributing not only to the environmental impact of the paper that’s used in the card but also to the energy and chemicals of the prints and dyes as well as the glue on the envelope. There are lots of great alternatives to buying birthday cards though. Here are five of our favorites.

Make a Card Out of Found Objects

The most eco friendly way to avoid buying a greeting card (besides going digital) is to make one out of the paper and cloth items that you find in your home. Within just a few moments, chances are that you can find enough materials in your house to make a great card. Even  if you’re not very creative, newspapers, magazines and even labels from food products can provide all of the artwork that you need.

Chalk the Sidewalk

How much would your birthday recipient love it if he or she walked outside in the morning and found their birthday wish chalked onto the sidewalk in front of his or her office or home? It’s easy to find non-toxic chalk, and you won’t leave any permanent impact on the ground. Just be sure that the weather doesn’t call for rain!

Use Icing, Frosting, or Vegetable Letters

Write your birthday wish in food! Use icing on a cookie or cake, or even just on a plate. One of our favorite healthy alternatives though is to use cut up fresh vegetables to form the words “Happy Birthday” on a plate. Food not only reduces waste, but it will mean a tasty snack break for the recipient.

Write on a Photograph

One of the problems with birthday cards is that they’re mostly wasteful. Very few people save their cards for more than a month before they end up in the trash. However, photographs are full of memories and many people will leave them pinned to a wall, clipboard or other surface for years. Find a photograph that is meaningful to you and the birthday recipient and write your birthday message on the photo. It will be more meaningful, and last longer.

Write a Letter

Similar to the idea of giving a photograph rather than a card because the photograph will be kept longer, writing a letter out by hand instead of giving a card will show that you took more time and effort. Chances are, your recipient will be moved and save the letter for years to come. At a minimum, you will have used less ink and chemicals than purchasing a pre-made card. None of us write enough letters and share enough emotions these days. Make the next birthday in your circle of friends and family a reason to do just that.

If you are going to buy greeting cards, make a conscious effort to buy cards made of recycled paper that use environmentally friendly ink and printing processes!

Do you have an idea for an alternative to greeting cards? If so, like us on Facebook and tell us about it!

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Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: cticne