With gifting season right around the corner, it’s time to rethink plastic gift cards. We’ve all seen the headline that we might be eating a credit card’s worth of plastic every week. We consume plastic in our drinking water and our fish in the form of microplastics. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic debris and we are consuming about five grams of microplastics every week. That’s the same amount of plastic that’s in a credit or gift card. But have you thought about how your plastic credit cards and gift cards contribute to the plastic waste in the environment? According to a Nilson study, 6.4 billion credit, debit and prepaid cards are shipped worldwide each year, and most are made from plastic. Choose a plastic-free gift card this season and give a gift that the recipient and the environment can enjoy.
What Are Gift Cards Made Of?
Plastic gift cards and credit cards are made from PVC, which stands for polyvinyl chloride. PVC is a hard plastic that contains many harmful chemicals. PVC often contains phthalates and BPA, both of which are chemicals associated with negative health effects. Phthalates have been linked to disruptions in the endocrine system. Some chemicals in the phthalate group have already been banned from children’s toys. BPA is a known toxin and has been linked to respiratory issues.
PVC is plastic, but because of the toxic materials it is made from, it is difficult to recycle. Most curbside recycling programs won’t pick up plastic credit cards or gift cards. That means that instead, these cards are thrown into the trash. According to GiftRocket.com, 1.6 billion gift cards are made in the U.S. every year, and it takes 9,000 tons of plastic to make these gift cards. That’s 9,000 tons of toxic plastic that will be dumped into our oceans and landfills. Credit and gift cards break down into microplastics and end up back in our systems. So, you really might be eating your gift card.
What Should I Give Instead?
Gift cards are still a great option. But instead of giving traditional plastic gift cards choose an eco-friendly gift card option. Companies such as Whole Foods offer paper gift cards instead of plastic. Another option is to go digital. You can give the same gift card digitally, which is more convenient and creates no plastic waste. At Blueland, we offer an online holiday gift card, which means no plastic waste but a great gift. Give the gift that makes everyone happy, planet included.