10 Ideas For Re-using Old Business Cards

book from old business cardsDo you have a stack of old business cards that you can no longer use? When your phone number changes, or your job title, or you leave that company altogether, what can you do all those spares? Just throwing them away is almost a crime in these eco-conscious days; recycling them is one option; but as always re-using and re-purposing them is best of all.

If you think creatively there are loads of ways to make use of old business cards, almost enough for you to wish you had some handy, because they can be used in a thousand different ways. Here are just ten ideas.

1. Gift tags – glue the printed side onto some pretty coloured paper or once-used wrapping paper. Punch a hole in one end for some ribbon or raffia and the blank side is all ready to write your To and From details. You can even trim the edges with scalloped craft scissors if you want to get fancy.

2. Mini note pads – Clip a small stack of cards together blank side up and keep them near the phone for scribbling messages.

3. Labels for filing cabinet drawers and hanging files.

4. Art canvases – let the kids make multiple pieces of mini-art on the blank sides and stage an art exhibition. Get creative yourself too with crayons and colouring pencils.

5. Playing cards – Make your own pack of playing cards by drawing the card suits and numbers on the blank side.

6. Stencils – Cut a shape out of the card and use it as a stencil, either for small details when home decorating or just as a fun art project. Also great when you are making home-made Christmas cards.

7. Cue cards – if you have to give a talk or speech, use a stack of cards as cue cards. They are small but discreet and have just enough room for a memory jogging sentence.

8. Revision notes – If you or your kids have an exam or test looming, use a stack of business cards to jot down notes of important points to remember as a memory aid.

9. Card houses – do you remember building card houses with playing cards – why not use business cards instead – see how tall a tower you can make.

10.  Punch a hole in the corner and keep a few on your keychain. Write notes, lists and reminders for the day on them.

Also check out this great idea for mini photo books made from business cards as in the photo above.

And when you get a new set of business cards printed, make sure you ask for eco-friendly recycled paper stock and non-toxic inks – get a design you know will last, so that you don’t end up with a huge stack of unused business cards to repurpose… unless of course you had such fun with this lot that you want leftovers!

How To Go Green With Business Cards

The green approach to business cards can benefit from the overall green mantra being applied to it: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Yes, business cards are essential in today’s business climate, but they don’t have to be wasteful, they can be functional and they should always be recyclable!

That means a big NO to the latest trend in plastic business cards – yes they last longer, but do you really want to be advertising your business 100 years from now in the landfill?

Reduce
Have fewer business cards printed. See if you can get a deal with a printing company whereby they will keep your design on record and print them off in smaller batches as you need them. There’s nothing more wasteful than a huge batch of business cards ordered one year, only for you to change some details and need a new one before you’ve even used half of them.

Re-use
Find ways of making your business cards re-usable. The obvious use would be as bookmarks and coffee mats, but you can get really creative with this. Here are some ideas we like
re-usable clothes-peg business cardre-usable elastic band business cardOr re-use old business cards and hand-write your details on the back to make a statement:

re-use old business cards
Recycle
It goes without saying that your business cards should be recyclable. Stick with paper and card and avoid the metallic and plastic effects that are becoming popular now. Even better go for recycled card and paper and vegetable based inks which are available at most eco-conscious printers these days.Here is one place to go for printing green business cards in Cape Town.

If your business is seriously green in mindset and a slick image is less important than an authentically green one, make your own cards by recycling cardboard from cereal packets, tea boxes and so on. cardboard stamped business card

Or re-use scrap office paper.

recycled scrap paper business cardIf you’ve got some great ideas or great pics of green business cards, please do share!

Christmas Cards – Can they be Green?

Christmas cards

© Upimages | Dreamstime.com

Are Christmas cards just a chore for you that you’d be happy to dispense with? Or do you love the ritual of catching up with old friends once a year and sharing the latest annual family photo?

Christmas cards are still a firmly rooted tradition for many but are they ever really green?

Several friends have sent out their Christmas cards by e-mail, which is probably the greenest option – no paper used, no postage, no carbon footprint for getting it delivered to your door. But for some this is a cop-out – how can that e-mail pic of the kids in their Santa hats, however cute, ever make it to the display of Christmas cards on the mantelpiece or hanging from the ribbon on the wall? Only if the recipient prints it out themselves… and then it is no longer carbon neutral! While I actually like the immediacy of e-mailing cards – nothing better for the last minute Christmas panic catch-up – some people just don’t feel that they are proper.

Other green options include making your own Christmas cards from recycled paper, packaging, found items, such as leaves and pressed flowers and so on. Hand-delivering can save on postage and help with the green profile, unless you are driving several miles just to deliver it, of course.

What about if the hand-made look just isn’t you, but you still want something unique and individual? It’s well worth looking out for specialist printers with a green ethos, if you like a more formal or sleeker design of card. You can either design your own card, or provide some images and have it designed for you. Ask for recycled paper, check that they use earth-friendly, vegetable based inks and have your own green Christmas cards printed especially for you.

If you are trying to keep costs down, think laterally – why not design yourself a business card size Christmas greeting, so that you can take advantage of special rates in litho printing. Or a postcard size – this will save on postage and envelopes too.

One tip to keep postage costs down – design your cards to fit the standard envelope size. International postage costs far less in this size than it does when you move one size up.

So if you are weighing up tradition versus green living when it comes to Christmas cards you can find an acceptable balance… except now with a countdown of just over a week till Christmas it may be too late to send out the traditional printed and posted Christmas card, this year anyway… e-mail cards here I come!

Use QR codes for Smart and Green Business Cards

Green QR code design for business cards

A QR code with a difference

While we’re not quite ready to get rid of business cards and go paperless, there are ways of making them greener. Hi-tech ways that don’t necessarily involve recycled paper and re-used packaging. QR codes are the latest ingenious solution. They are simply printed graphic codes, like bar codes but more complex, that can be scanned by a Smartphone with the appropriate app.

The code printed on your business card can contain all your contact details, to make it easier for a new contact to input them into their phone – one click of the camera button and it’s done. This can save on the number of business cards that you have to give out – once the details are inputted some contacts won’t bother to keep the card, so it can be re-used again and again for scanning purposes.

QR codes can also contain urls, so that with one click your contact can go straight to a web page, an electronic brochure, or whatever.

So, at business networking events, your business cards could save you needing to print off fliers or brochures altogether. Send your new contacts straight to a page that is updated regularly with all your latest offers or new services. The QR code doesn’t need to change, all you have to do is update the page it links to, according to the event you are attending.

If you have several different lines of products or services, you might consider having different versions of your business card printed with QR codes linking to different websites or pages. The great thing about these codes is that they can become effective design elements in themselves, making it easier to differentiate between them.

Talk to a designer or printer who is experienced in QR codes to get the best ideas for your smart and green business cards.

Greener Business Cards – Eco-friendly Alternatives

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, business cards are still necessary for business networking. Only the techies seem to have got the hang of digital business cards so far and even then it’s not simple with so many different apps and platforms to choose between.

But determined eco-freaks can find a way around anything and more and more creative ideas are coming into play. One of my favourites is this:

The business card stamp
Design yourself a business card stamp and have it made up either as a self-inking stamp or a simple stamp to use with an ink pad. Make sure it uses non-toxic soy based inks, of course – we’re talking eco here not cheapo.
Now you have the freedom to stamp your business card on any paper or card you like – empty cereal boxes, thick cardboard boxes rescued from the recycling pile, re-used envelopes, even sturdy leaves gathered in your garden. You can also stamp your info directly into a contact’s address book or note book, so it is less likely to get lost.

Pros:
No wastage of paper. You only print the cards as they are needed.
You are making an eco-statement.
You can vary the recycled paper you print the cards on according to the networking event.
Cheaper than having a stack of cards printed.

Cons:
Design has to be simple, so can’t fit in lots of additional information.
Can look too home-spun for some, not suitable for a slick image.

Green Printing Services
Of course if you are looking for something more traditional for your business cards but want to make sure they are green, look out for a green printing service in your area. You can then have slick design and a green ethos, by using post-consumer recycled paper, vegetable-based inks and more from a company with a carbon neutral standing.

Do your research first to find a genuinely environmentally friendly company. And don’t forget to to have  an eco-statement printed on the back of your business cards, such as ‘printed on 100% recycled paper’ so that everyone knows that your slick company image is still eco-friendly. If you are Cape Town based check out Deep Design’s business card printing service for plenty of green printing options.