Paper Culture

Holiday cards are something I look forward to sending and even more so receiving.  Once December rolls around I eagerly check the mail like a child, hoping to get more holiday cards from family and friends.  I hang them up along our fireplace as a primary focal point of our holiday traditions.  I know email cards would be more environmentally friendly, but they are way less exciting.

I can’t actually recall how I found out about Paper Culture, but I had them on my radar and when the holidays rolled around I thought they’d be a perfect company for my December product review.  Why?  Because they claim to be sustainable.  Let’s find out.


Paper Culture sells premium customized cards and stationery- holiday cards, wedding cards, thank you cards, birth announcements, and even has some gifts for sale as well.  You can find them online at  They are directly competing with the likes of Minted and Tiny Prints.

Instead of using new trees for their cards they use post-consumer waste and wood alternatives.  The reason I am excited about these is, as I mentioned, I like my printed holiday cards and if there is a way to make this tradition of ours more environmentally friendly I am all in.  Plus I had a really frustrating experience with Shutterfly last year and almost cancelled my order.


The website operates the same as all of the others.  I decided to go with a postcard design this year and found 22 different layouts to choose from.  I didn’t look through the other card layouts to see if they had a wide variety of designs.  I had no problems uploading photos, customizing the text, and placing my order.

I ordered my cards on Monday November 26th and received them on Tuesday December 4th.  Eight days.  This was with regular shipping and they ended up upgrading my delivery method so I would get them sooner than expected.  That was a good start!

Paper Culture postcard standard 130lb card on top, Shutterfly standard card on bottom
Paper Culture standard postcard. Photo Credit: Kimberly Offenberg

I was really impressed with the quality of the cards.  Their standard paper is 130lb which is more than their competitors standard paper weight.  I copied this graph they have on their website because the smiley faces made me laugh out loud.  I hope they don’t mind.

Paper culture comparison chart
“Paper Culture Compared To Minted, Shutterfly, Tiny Prints and Snapfish.”  Credit: Paper Culture


I received 80 holiday postcards for $64 which included free shipping, a first time user $10 coupon and a 50% off holiday card promotion.  Not many companies offer the postcard format but I found them on Minted where they were more expensive.


So the cards stack up against the competition but how about their environmental claims?  Their main marketing hook is they plant a tree for every order.  Trees are planted in areas where reforestation is most needed.  I contacted them to find out more about this.  I’m thinking – the Amazon rainforest, Borneo, forests in remote areas that are deforested by local populations or for large corporations?  That’s what we hear a lot of when it comes to deforestation.  Which seems like a complicated issue to tackle this way.  I was a little skeptical.

They do work with international organizations in Africa, Asia and South America.  And after a brief look on their website it seemed attainable and I was swayed by pictures of local villagers standing next to healthy looking fruit trees.  Just being honest, this is the extent that I looked into their international efforts.

But I was most impressed by their domestic efforts.  According to Deb at Paper Culture, there is a “backlog of more than one million acres of America’s national forests that need to be replanted” due to wildfires, insect and disease.  They work with national organizations such as Arbor Day Foundation, Friends of the Urban Forest, Our City Forest and Trees For The Future.  I honestly never thought about our domestic tree needs, other than my own street which is definitely lacking.  This was both eye opening and exciting to read about.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Offenberg

Bonus.  When you place an order you get to “dedicate” the tree and pick out a little icon to go with it.  It’s purely symbolic but is still pretty cool.

In addition to their tree planting efforts, they purchase carbon credits through, are certified as a California Green Business and, according to their website, they are the 2013 winner of the California Climate Leader award.


Who doesn’t like a whole section of just fun and interesting statistics?  Here you go!  Sources from Paper Culture, Arbor Day FoundationCarbon Day, and HubSpot.

  • Over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent each year in the U.S.  Compared to 500 million e-cards.
  • Christmas cards originated in England by school boys who needed to practice their penmanship.
  • Over 1.6 billion people living in and around forests worldwide depend directly on forests for their livelihoods.
  • One mature tree provides enough oxygen to support a couple for one year.
  • The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
  • One tree absorbs as much carbon dioxide as a car produces driving 26,000 miles.
  • A mature tree can increase a home’s appraised value between $1,000 and $10,000.
  • Having large trees in yards along streets increases a home’s value from 3 percent to 15 percent. (This one is for you David ;))
  • An average American uses about 750 pounds of paper every year, and 95% of homes are built using wood. That means each person uses the equivalent of one 100-foot tall, 16-inch diameter, tree every year for their paper and wood product needs.
  • About one third of the United States of America is covered by forestland.
  • The average tree in an urban/city area has a life expectancy of only 8 years.


Yes, I am very happy with these cards and I feel great on top of it!  And now after researching for this post I have one more cause I want to be involved in and another reason to love trees!





One comment

  1. thank you for this wonderfully in depth review. I can’t wait to read more about your endeavors and it will help me vet the companies I buy from as well! “Every time you buy something you’re casting a vote for the way you want the world to be.”


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