We’ve all heard it before, “Choose paper, not plastic,” but with credit cards, think the opposite. You can easily reduce your personal carbon footprint by using the plastic in greener ways.
Members of environmental groups like The Sierra Club or The Nature Conservancy can sign up for an affiliate credit card. Every time the card is used, a percentage is returned to the club and used for eco-friendly products. You can also sign up for a credit card that carbon offsets credits every time you use the card. Bank of America’s Brighter Planet Visa cardholders receive one EarthSmart point for every dollar you spend and 1,000 points purchases one ton of carbon offsets. You also receive 1,000 points the first time you use the card and another 1,000 when you sign up for paperless statements.
Choose paperless account statements for your credit card. Many people bank online already and use paper statements as a backup copy, but many credit card companies allow access to archived statements. You can also save each statement to your hard drive. Customers receive an e-mail notification when the statement is available, usually three to five days earlier than a snail mailed statement, and another e-mail reminder when bills are due. In the past year, there has been a 50 percent increase in paperless enrollment rates, meaning more trees are saved. Discover reports saving an average of 350 trees a month and has saved 70 million pages per year through online statements. Citibank plants a new tree whenever a customer switches to electronic statements, resulting 300,000 trees being planted in the first quarter of 2007. Check out Environmental Graffiti for even more eco-friendly credit cards.
Balancing a checkbook is never fun, so why not get rid of it? Make online payments for credit cards and you save on the paper and postage required to mail your payment. Also, using a debit or credit card eliminates the paper needed to print a check.
Discover recently introduced a biodegradable credit card, which will fully degrade in five years and leaves no toxic residue. The card will begin to break down when exposed to landfill conditions like soil, water or compost.
When credit cards expire, don’t just throw them away. Credit and debits card, along with used up gift cards, can be used in fun projects for kids. Try cutting them into small pieces to create a mosaic or cutting the card and using it as a guitar pick. You can also reuse cards as plant labels, to make a mobile for a baby’s crib or other artwork. Other uses include using it as a straight edge like a ruler or using it as an ice scraper.