This Christmas, you’ll undoubtedly be receiving your fair share of Christmas gift cards, particularly if you happen to have a few elderly relatives who won’t even pretend to know what constitutes a legitimate gift in 2018. Once they’ve been spent, however, what are we to do with these superfluous pieces of PVC? It might not seem like a major deal, but the hundreds of gift cards thrown away every year add up, with the 2 billion gift cards sold in the US alone making up a major part of the over 75 million pounds of PVC that goes to waste every year.
It’s not only the gift card sector that should be making changes when it comes to wasted plastic either. The financial sector is making great waves to tackle their use of paper by offering incentives for “going paperless,” but are they doing enough when it comes to credit cards? No. Which means it’s up to you. Of course, it can prove incredibly cathartic to cut up and dispose of our credit cards, particularly if we’ve just been helped through a period of bad credit by Ocean Finance.
The good news is that PVC is recyclable. The bad news, however, is that the process of recycling it is so difficult (largely because burning it can prove incredibly toxic) that most recycling centres won’t touch it. Also, the sensitive material stored on credit and debit cards means that the vast majority of us cut them up before throwing them away, and even the centres that do except PVC cards only accept them whole.
What’s the Answer?
Play it Safe – On the rare chance that your local recycling centre DOES accept credit and gift cards, make sure you remove any chips or holographic information first!
Ice Ice Baby – Due to the solid nature of their PVC construction, credit and gift cards actually make for surprisingly decent and flexible ice scrapers.
Cut the Cheese – For the same reason that they make ideal ice scrapers, used credit and gift cards also make oddly effective knives for whenever you’re in a pinch. Use them to spread butter and cut cheese on a picnic and you’ll never want to use a kitchen knife again! Maybe.
Make Them Rock – A common Christmas gift for guitarists is the metal puncher that can use discarded PVC cards to make guitar plectrums. If you’re feeling really quirky, these homemade plectrums can also be turned into makeshift earrings. Thought you might not want to save them for special occasions.
Zero Waste – The Zero Waste Box from Terracycle allows you to recycle any wallet-sized card. The cards are then separated and pelletised into brand new plastic products. However, you’ll still need to remember to cut up any cards containing sensitive information before shipping.
Go Green – There are banks and gift card companies now using environmentally friendly ‘green’ cards. Some will even donate a percentage of your spending to an environmental charity!
Reloaded – Finally, remember that, for gift cards at least, many retailers allow you to fill your card back up, sometimes with an added bonus. So think before you reach for the scissors next time!
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