She was the brand new manager of a large corporation wanting to make a swift and positive difference in the bottom line. So, she announced a new decision to go paperless in the company’s only department that still sent a tangible wish of congratulations to employees on their birthday or anniversary. It was the politically correct thing to do and it removed several thousand dollars of expense from the bottom line. Employees should feel just as honored when they receive an electronic message in their inbox on their special day, right?
WRONG.Decisions like this one are being made at a furious rate all in the name of “going green.” But nobody ever talks about the cost, both emotionally and environmentally, of reducing paper use and saving trees. Has anyone thought to consider that the paper most greeting cards are printed on is recycled and the ink used is soy based and environmentally safe? How about the fact that a printed greeting card is recyclable and biodegradable?On the flip side is the vast number of computers and electronic devices most companies update every few years to keep up with technological improvements. There has to be a way to facilitate and support all that paperless communication but where does the constant flow of outdated, un-biodegradable equipment go? In a landfill.Show me a tech-savy, wireless, computer nerd who isn’t thrilled to find a greeting card with a hand-written message in the daily mail pileand I’ll show you someone without a heartbeat. Nobody enjoys getting junk mail, bills or solicitations for sales and donations but I can tell story after story of greeting cards that delighted the recipients and touched their lives in lasting ways. A card thanking a nurse or doctor who cared for a sick loved one. A note of congratulations or encouragement. An expression of thanks after someone gave their time and talents to make a difference. A sympathy card with beautiful art and a heartfelt message of comfort after a loss. And perhaps best of all, a few sentences of personal news written on a card sent to someone for no reason at all other than to give them a smile.Nearly 3 decades ago, my artist-mother and I started a little greeting card company with her colorful torn-paper art and my original, hand written verses. Since then, we have been the blessed recipients of countless, unexpected phone calls and notes thanking us for our cards. Time and time again, a perfect stranger has written to share an experience of receiving a particular card with a message that delivered hope or joy or comfort at a time when they needed it most.We named our company “it takes two” not after the 2 of us but rather because it will always take two to share the meaningful communication of a greeting card: the giver and the receiver.If you believe there is no longer a place in our world for meaningful communication on paper, think again.The way we communicate in our daily lives has changed dramatically but the kinds of communication that touch our hearts most deeply will never change.There is an appropriate and important place for email, texting and other forms of messaging. But ask yourself honestly~ would you be more delighted to find 10 email messages in your inbox or to find 1 greeting card with a personally written note on your countertop?Email has its place and serves its purpose.It is informational, electronic and deletable.A greeting card has its place too.It is meaningful, tangible and lasting.You choose.Better yet, don’t choose. You don’t have to.When you’ve deleted all your junk mail and cleaned out your inbox…just send a card, share a thought, touch a heart.You’ll be making a lasting difference.Next time you update your computer equipment at home or at work, think about the “cost” of living in an increasingly paperless world where personal forms of communication are viewed as less valuable and more harmful to our environment. Then, try to remember the last time you opened an “email” and treasured the lasting gift of a few carefully chosen, handwritten words.
We can all go paperless and save millions of trees by paying our bills online and requesting lengthy reports to be sent electronically. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice the biodegradable greeting card printed on recycled paper. The loss of meaningful, personal communication is much too high a price to pay.