Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things I Hate: Plastic Gift and Discount Cards

This morning in the office mail I saw a postcard made entirely from plastic. It had perforation lines for the featured promotion, a 20% discount card. Um, wow. Was that really necessary?? It reminded me of something I hate: plastic gift and discount cards. To review, Things I Hate generally:

- are made of plastic
- are meant to be used once and tossed away
- are not in any way recyclable
- appeal to people's vanity and desire for instant gratification
- strive to create a need where there was none before
- are recently created streams of pure waste

Now before I launch in, I have to say my hate is directed at the producers of the cards, not at people who give them. I have a gift card or two at home, intend to use them, and very much appreciate the thoughtfullness of the gift. Also- a couple Christmases ago I gave iTunes cards to my nieces and nephews because I wanted to give them a non-material gift: music of their choice. I suppose I could have investigated buying the iTunes credit online and giving them a paper card with the code, but having a plastic iTunes card to give them was faster and easier. I totally get the convenience and appeal of gift cards. I still hate them.

How long have plastic gift cards been around? Ten years? Fifteen? They are everywhere now--every chain store has them. I killed some time Sunday afternoon checking out the big new Barnes & Noble on the upper east side. The display of gift cards before you get to the registers is HUGE. Why dedicate so much pricey floor space to one-time-use plastic cards? Why do they need a selection of cards so vast- it is a book store, not a gift card store, right? My guess is they make more money selling those cards than actual books. That is really something.

Whatever happened to paper gift certificates and coupons?


Carla said...

Hmmmm... I'm not sure about all cards but at least some stores allow you to put money onto a card, carry it instead of cash and then refill it when it is empty or low. You've already paid the dollars but don't have to carry them around with you. Of course, in a sense you are loaning your money to the business for an unspecified length of time because it is up to you to retrieve it in purchases.

Anonymous said...

Hi Juli. I'm not a fan of plastic cards either, but some of them can actually be recycled. I wrote a whole post on the subject a while back. Let me find it.

I would write more, but I just took a Xanax 30 minutes ago and am nodding off as I type. (Is that TMI?)

The Green Cat said...

I just saw one of those full plastic postcards in my boyfriend's mail the other day and I was shocked! I can't believe those exist!

SusanB said...

I've gotten some plastic postcards recently -- from trolling realtors. Yuk. Seems to be a new development in junk mail.

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Condo Blues said...

I was all for paper cards, especially for public transit until I went to London. I got an underground pass for the week and it rode in my pocket. It was paperboard and bent easily and wouldn't go through the readers. I had to get a couple of replacements the week I was there. I'm sure the paper cards went to the landfill instead of being recycled :(