Wednesday, August 26, 2009
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?