It’s in the cards

At this time each year, we all have to answer that age old question: What do you do with the many holiday cards and mounds of wrapping paper strewn around the house? The easy answer is to toss everything in the garbage. A better answer is to recycle, starting with all the colorful Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa cards received from family, friends and your insurance agent.

At St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City, Andrea Williams is more than happy to take your cards.

"We accept just about everything," said Williams, who works in the donor department. "Birthday cards, get well cards, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, happy retirement, whatever is lying around. The children and our volunteers work together making new recycled cards by removing the front of the original card and attaching a new back. The benefits are two-fold: Customers receive beautiful cards and the children receive payment for their work and learn the benefits and importance of going green."

Williams said St. Jude’s is accepting used, all-occasion greeting cards through Feb. 28, 2009. They can be mailed to: St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, Card Recycling Program, 100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV 89005. Persons wanting to deliver them in person can do so Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

When it’s time to buy cards, Williams suggests buying them at their gift store or online at www.stjudesranch.org. They are available in packages of 10, including envelopes, for $8 in the following categories: general or religious Christmas, Easter, birthday, thank you and all occasion/general. All proceeds go to the ranch, which provides a safe haven for abused, neglected and abandoned children in Southern Nevada.

"We’ve been doing this for over 30 years and it’s been very successful," she said. "In fact, we receive cards from around the world."

Arts and crafts enthusiasts have other ideas about what to do with their cards.

In Henderson, Stephanie Heiner takes the pictures on the holiday cards and turns them into postcards that she later mails back to the people who sent her gifts. She also makes holiday coasters by cutting scenes from cards and gluing them to square pieces of cardboard. They are waterproofed with a thick coat of decoupage glue.

Heiner has one last idea that she used when her two children were younger.

"I would cut out colorful animals or trees or very happy Santas and placed spray adhesive on the back side," she explained. "Then, I would stick these cut-outs in various places, such as bathroom walls, kitchen cabinets or along my son’s bedroom wall. The best part is the adhesive comes right off without leaving any residue on the furniture or paint."

For a green approach that might even make Dr. Seuss’ Grinch look pale, you could recycle your cards at the nearest Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.

The El Segundo, Calif.-based chain will accept cards through mid-January at its stores. Proceeds from the sale of the recycled cards will go to American Forests, a nonprofit organization that focuses on planting trees in restoration areas throughout the country.

Last year, the company raised enough money to plant 1,000 trees, half of them in Arizona’s Kaibab National Forest, which had been devastated in a fire during 2006, and the other half in California’s Klamath National Forest.

"We want to make it easier for customers to make more environmentally friendly decisions," said Tim Mason, chief executive officer. "If everyone in the neighborhood brings their holiday cards back to our stores to be recycled, we can make a big difference."

In the end, you may just want to gather everything up and head over to the Opportunity Village shredding facility at 451 E. Lake Mead Blvd., Henderson. It was the first document destruction service in Southern Nevada to receive national accreditation. This means Opportunity Village guarantees proper document destruction with the highest degree of confidentiality.

Paul Shlisky is in the document destruction sales office. Several of their clients are New York-New York, Southwest Gas, McCarran International Airport, Wells Fargo Bank, Wynn Resorts, and the city of Henderson. Locals are also welcome.

"Although we shred for many commercial accounts, we take boxes of magazines, cards and other paper materials from individuals," he said. "The cost is 16 cents a pound so a fully-packed banker box or a box that is used for a ream of paper might weigh 20-30 pounds. That averages out to less than five dollars. People can bring their wrapping paper to the facility Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. We even invite them to stay and watch the operation in person. If you want us to pick up your box or boxes of wrapping paper, there is a $65 pick-up fee."

Shlisky said 50 disabled adults work at the facility where 100 percent of all shredded paper is turned over to Rocky Mountain Recyclers. There, it is pulped, bleached and eventually turned back into paper once again.

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