As part of finding Pura Vida in my life I’ve been trying to simplify my life – cleaning out my car, my wallet, my closet and getting rid of unnecessary clutter and junk. When I was cleaning out my wallet though, I found a stack of old gift cards and loyalty cards and couldn’t convince myself it was a good idea to throw away all these cards. Surely somehow I could recycle them all, right?
I started a Google search in an attempt to figure out what to do with this stack of gift cards and found quite a few websites that recycle old gift cards!! Hallelujah, I don’t have to throw all of these cards away that will ultimately sit in a landfill for centuries. These cards can be recycled into other cards and other merchandise. Here’s a what I found:
Earthworks – I think this will be the company that I send my used gift cards to because this company seems legit and is recommended by almost every recycling or environmental website I could find! What I like about there process is that the cards are shredded for security and then all melted together to form new PVC sheets and eventually new gift cards and loyalty cards for people. The one immediate problem I have with this website is that it’s “under construction” and I cannot find a consistent address to send the gift cards. In looking long term, I’m sure while they fix their website I can find a dozen or so more cards to recycle and send them all at once.
Gift Card Recycler – This website seems a bit outdated and to be honest I couldn’t find info if they were still in business but it’s worth a shot because this company gives you points for sending in old gift cards. The points can then be redeemed for other stuff (note: I don’t know what that other stuff is because I think you have to create an account with the website to get full details). I do like the external motivation of encouraging people to recycle.
In addition, I also found a few websites that you can donate the last few cents or dollars of a gift card to and they will use that money for charitable purposes. I thought this was a pretty cool idea because at work I hear guests say to me that I can throw away a card because it only has 3 cents left on it. Now people can put that 3 cents to good use. That money may not make a huge difference on a tab of $20 but if everyone donated 3 cents of a left over gift card to a charity, well I feel like that would make a substantial impact on charities over time.
In this process it did take considerable time to figure out if any of the cards had any balances on them and putting all the loyalty cards onto an app on my iPhone. Sometimes I had to call customer service because the card was too old or needed to have my personal information verified, which again took up some time. However, I did discover I have almost $500 worth of gift cards just sitting in my wallet that weren’t being used. I would say that’s pretty successful! I also found a number of cards that were way over 5 years old and not only did they not have any value on the gift cards but some of the stores and restaurants weren’t even open anymore. Yikes!
The last downside I see to recycling cards is that you need to take the time and effort to collect all these cards and then send them off to be recycled. They cannot just be placed in the normal plastic recycling bin due to the chemicals on the card and the magnetic strip. I can see where some people would think this is unnecessary and just throw the cards away, again this is where external motivation can be powerful. I can see where going through the effort to recycle the cards can be tedious, however, in looking at my stack of cards there was no way I could throw 30+ gift cards and loyalty cards away so I started a recycling bin of old cards in my house. Not only can my family contribute but I’ll start taking old gift cards from work and add them to my pile to make an even bigger impact!