Can You Recycle Greeting Cards? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Greeting cards are a beautiful reminder that let you know that someone cares. After the holiday or special occasion, however, you might be left wondering what to do with them. 

They are little works of art and you would like to keep them on display or dispose of them in a way that is not harmful to the environment. Do not worry! There are easy ways to recycle greeting cards, keep on reading to find those out!

Can You Recycle Greeting Cards?

Greeting cards can go into your recycle bin, however, look for the recycling label on the back to be sure. You can also use them for crafts, donate them, or frame them as artwork. Greeting cards can even be re-used by cutting and pasting new things on them. 

Recycling greeting cards can also save your budget and the planet. Furthermore, charities also collect greeting cards to use for crafts or skills programs. Read on to learn more about how to recycle greeting cards.

How To Recycle Greeting Cards 

Recyclable items will have a recycling symbol letting you know whether or not they can be safely recycled. 

Therefore, whether or not you can recycle a greeting card depends on what it is made of. Usually, greeting cards are made of paper card stock and are okay to recycle.

Furthermore, when recycling a greeting card, make sure to remove anything that is not paper. 

  • Remove all non-paper extras (glitter, foil, ribbons).
  • Dispose of hazardous waste properly (batteries) at waste disposal centers.
  • Anything that is not paper goes in the trash.

Once you have done this, the card can be safely recycled. Additionally, the envelope can go with it if it is made of paper. 

Also, if the greeting card was mailed to you, you do not have to remove the stamp in order to recycle the envelope. 

Where To Recycle Greeting Cards

Greeting cards can be recycled in a variety of circumstances around the home. 

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Your first choice will probably be to collect them and add them to your weekly recycling bin. They will then be taken to your city’s recycling facility. 

If you do not want to just pop them into the recycle bin when you are done, consider ways that greeting cards can be reused and repurposed around your home. 

What Are Greeting Cards Made Of?

Greeting cards can be made of different types of paper, however, the most common papers are types of cardstock. 

Some greeting cards though might be made of cardboard, and some may even be laminated or coated too.

Although most greeting cards today are made of recycled materials, some are made of photo paper which is not recyclable. 

Unfortunately, the cute extra features greeting cards often have can make them hard to recycle as well. These include:

  • Glitter
  • Beads
  • Songs
  • Ribbons
  • Metallics
  • Jewels
  • Photos

So be sure to remove these and dispose of them in the trash before sending your used greeting cards away to be recycled.

Are Greeting Cards Biodegradable?

Are Greeting Cards Biodegradable?

As long as the paper stock used to make the greeting card is not coated with anything, greeting cards will biodegrade. 

However, how quickly they will biodegrade depends on the environment and other factors.

Paper and cardboard break down relatively quickly and if you shred the card and mix it with soil it will decompose in as little as three months. 

How To Reuse and Upcycle Greeting Cards

If your greeting cards are sentimental, you can keep the images with you forever by using them for decoupage or collage crafts, these are fun for both adults and children. 

Furthermore, you can even scan the images on greeting cards onto fabric and make them into quilts or pillows.

To make a greeting card collage, follow these steps:

  • First, gather a collection of greeting cards. These can be from one holiday, one person, or a whole year.
  • Then, cut around the images on the cards you want to keep.
  • Create a collage that can then go in a frame or onto a bulletin board.
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Another great way to upcycle or reuse your cards is to simply frame them. This works great when you buy multiple small frames, or a larger frame that has room for many card-sized photos. 

Furthermore, choose the cards you want and put them inside instead of pictures.

Additionally, if you enjoy DIY, you can turn greeting cards into decoupage. 

  • Choose a proper surface such as wood or cardboard.
  • Cut images from the greeting cards.
  • Lay the images out in the pattern you want.
  • Glue the images onto the surfaces using the proper glue.
  • Use decoupage glue to cover the images.
  • Allow the images to dry.

Some greeting cards have become three-dimensional, so a good way to reuse these is to create a shadowbox which is a simple wood box with a glass front displaying your card.

Furthermore, Christmas cards can be reused as ornaments. You can do this by simply cutting the card so you can place it back to back and laminating it so you can see the message.

Ornaments can be made by cutting smaller images out of the card as well, laminating them, and hanging them from the tree. 

You can also create ornaments by using glass globes and cutting the images from the cards so that they fit inside, then hang them for all to see.

Recycle Greeting Cards In Your Community

You might not realize but many organizations collect greeting cards for crafts. 

Some, such as St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, use the cards in job training programs. While others use them for crafts for children, the elderly, or the disabled.

Furthermore, your old used or unwanted greeting cards can be used to serve others and help them perform good deeds.

Regift Greeting Cards

Although you might not have thought about it, you can recycle a greeting card by “regifting” it.

  • Take an inexpensive blank greeting card.
  • Cut the image off of the greeting card you want to recycle.
  • Using glue that will not bleed through, paste the image onto the card.
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You can also use greeting cards as gift tags for the next holiday.

If you need to, you can paste paper on the back with “to” and “from” written on it, but in most cases, you can just write the name in and people will love the personalized tags.

Furthermore, many people send pictures as their cards during holidays so you can cut the photos off of these cards and frame them or scan them into your computer!

Do Some Greeting Cards Not Need To Be Recycled?

If you are the one sending a card, you might consider an electronic card instead. 

Electronic cards do not need to be recycled because they are never printed in the first place. However, the recipient still gets a fun card and the warm feeling of hearing from you.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle foam boards, whether you can recycle DVD and video game cases, and whether you can recycle duct tape.


As you can see, there are plenty of ways to recycle greeting cards. Furthermore, greeting cards are usually made of card stock which is biodegradable and will add to your compost bin if you have one. 

You can also remove all non-recyclable items such as glitter, ribbons, metal, etc., and place your old greeting cards in your weekly recycling bin so that they can be recycled into something else at your town’s recycling plant.


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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