Going Green with Credit Cards

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Happy Earth Day everyone! We thought it may be time for us to talk about Mother Nature and how credit cards work within her realm. The environmental issues surrounding PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) in credit cards is nothing new; PVC use in credit cards has been around since the 1920’s and was first introduced in Germany. Earth friendly advocates have been trying to bring this issue to light for years and we saw major strides early on (2008) that quickly faded away due to consumer disinterest. The current carbon footprint of a PVC contained credit card is measured at 21 grams of CO2. If this is used 3 times per month, that’s the equivalent of enough gas to drive a large vehicle 150 feet!

Read on to see how you, as a credit card holder, can reduce your carbon footprint and what companies in this industry are doing to help the environment.

How to Make Your Card Friendly for the Environment

  • Request Paperless Statements: That can apply to all accounts you have where a paper bill is mailed.
  • Recycle Expired Cards in a Responsible Way: PVC used on all credit cards is NOT recyclable. Earthworks System LLC is a front-runner in providing an affordable way to recycle PVC while remaining compatible with current manufacturing processes. Contact them today for details on scrapping your PVC credit cards or find a location near you.
  • Find an Earth-Friendly Bank: You can do your part to make sure these banks succeed by bringing them your business. These institutions are most likely to reflect your personal ecological views. In 2005, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citibank adopted a lending policy that addresses global warming and deforestation. Some big banks have affinity cards, which are cards issued that donate a set amount to the charity or non-profit listed on your card.
  • Earn Green Rewards: Many cards today provide the option for rewards to go towards carbon offsets or environmental group donations.
  • Request Earth-Friendly Cards: Right now these are NOT in demand. With that being said, once demand increases, so will supply.
  • Buy Eco-Friendly Products: It’s becoming increasingly popular for major stores to carry eco-friendly products from clothing to cleaning supplies and even hair care products.
  • Make Electronic Payments: Sending in payments by mail costs you a stamp, envelope and check. This process adds another 50% to your credit card carbon footprint!

Credit Cards Helping Decrease Their Carbon Footprint

The Salmon Nation card is one of the few that survived the beginning surge of environmentally friendly credit cards. Every purchase that’s made with the card will be split8306629_s up between PacificCoast Bank and Ecotrust to support Salmon Nation. These foundations have programs for increasing financial literacy, community development and others. Card members earn 1 point for every dollar spent in retail purchases and there’s no cap to the number of points you can earn. Apply today!

UMB offers a credit card that rewards card holders with rewards points when environmentally friendly purchases are made. Card members earn 2 points per dollar on gas, groceries and at discount stores; 1 point per dollar everywhere else AND on balance transfers; and an additional point is earned for qualified green purchases. Apply now! Note: This application would not load in Chrome, try Internet Explorer or FireFox.

Industry Leaders

Earthworks System LLC: This company developed the first fully-recycled and fully recyclable PVC sheet material by transforming existing PVC into sheet stock. This “virgin PVC” is suitable for gift cards, ID cards, signs, POS displays, hotel cards, and more. They’ve even developed colored, reusable PVC for branding opportunities.

BIOPVC: This company first teamed up with gift cards sold at stores such as Target, and later on teamed up with Discover to produce a credit card with PVC that gradually breaks down. It has the same life span as traditional credit cards and is fully capable of breaking down as long as it’s in a fertile environment; I.e., landfills full of microorganisms. Read more to get a better understanding of environmental strides BIOPVC is making.

Companies like the two listed above can’t make these strides alone. Consumers need to demand a change and do their part to recycle their cards responsibly. Hopefully PVC sheet material will become more common or perhaps credit cards will become obsolete (think Apple’s iTunes store where no plastic is needed), reducing PVC’s carbon footprint, so everyone can have a Happier Earth Day!

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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