Cool Card Trick for Avoiding Plastic Gift Giving

Keep plastic out of the landfill with a clever gift card alternative.

Plastic gift cards: those little irresistible envelope stuffers are everywhere – markets, book shops, warehouse stores. Thousands are being printed up for Father’s Day, alone.

Add that batch to the 1.6 billion cards made and shipped across the country each year, prompting sites like Treehugger to question if these are the new bottled water.  Arguably the most convenient and least creative gift to pick up, this new currency is often coated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a known human carcinogen. After being swiped and spent they are usually tossed out, since few recipients are aware of online alternatives or take part in gift card recycling programs aimed at reducing our plastic jungles.

Among the forward-thinking alternatives: GiftRocket, an entirely digital email-based gift card recently launched as a start-up venture by three founders who decided it was time for the redemption process to go digital. You simply go to the site and purchase a customized and personalized gift for a friend, perhaps $50 for the coffee shop in their neighborhood. The recipient is notified of the gesture via email or Facebook. They stroll to the shop for breakfast, click a button on their phone to redeem, et voila, free scones and cappuccinos! The money is instantly transferred to spend as you like.

“A way that we are different is we send out reminder emails to make sure they are used, a feature you would never get with a physical gift card,” explains co-founder Kapil Kale. “At my college graduation, I received so many gift cards they ended up being lost. I’m sure I still have a drawer full of them at home.”

Kale argues going digital curbs the no-brainer physical act of grabbing a card on the run and instead adds some thought to the process, since another cool feature is the giver isn’t limited to businesses enrolled in a gift card program. They can choose any business they like and GiftRocket will manage the money in an escrow account until it is redeemed.

It’s a good way to go, consider just how wasteful some of those printed plastic cards are, such as the iTunes card which can be gifted and downloaded electronically. This way, there is nothing to lose. And nothing to get swiped by a sister or roommate. Best motivator: No wallet filing. It’s hard enough keeping track of those frozen yogurt cards that reward you with a freebie after buying a few dozen you probably don’t need.


Images: Apple; GiftRocket




Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.