Why Mom loved the green card

Written by mark


I have to be honest: I have never understood my mother’s infatuation with cards. Every year on or around my birthday they appear without fail through the mail slot. I say “they” because there are usually two — the one from the serious and dignified mother, with gilt cursive lettering and pictures of a budding tree, and the other “jokey” card, usually mocking or crass, which is my mother’s way of having a good time.

I realize that it’s nice to know that someone is thinking about you/remembers you/doesn’t think you are dead because you haven’t called for a while. But when I looked at the ironic budding tree on the front of the card, I could only ask myself these questions: how many trees had to die for this? How much fuel did the USPS burn to get this card to me? How long do I need to display this on the mantelpiece before I put it in the recycling bin?

Then came the e-card. That was much nicer, at least to the trees. (It should be noted, however, that the carbon footprint of an e-card is not zero given the energy intensity of server farms supporting the web sites and email that these cards depend upon.)

E-cards also have the advantage of being both easy and free—though this could be considered counterproductive by those who believe it may be too easy and too free to be meaningful.

For me, what I call the TerraPass “Green Card” is the perfect solution. It combines the thoughtfulness of an e-card with financial support used to reduce the level of greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere — enough financial support, in fact, to offset my mother’s commute to work for over three months!* As the environment is something that is important to both me and my mom, it’s also meaningful. The best part about it is that there are two different versions I can send — one nice and one rudely funny — and you can bet I sent her both.

** 2009 Subaru Forrester, 4 days/week, 12 miles roundtrip*

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