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5 Earth-friendly credit card moves you can make now

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The traditional plastic credit card may not be replaced by an environmentally friendly alternative anytime soon, but there are several things you can do to make yourself a "greener" credit cardholder. 

From recycling to just saying no to paper statements, the following moves can help. 

1.  Request Earth-friendly cards: Your credit card issuer isn't likely to ditch PVC anytime soon, but major retailers that sell phone cards, gift cards, music download cards, activation cards and  prepaid cards might if enough consumers request less toxic alternatives. You can help the Earth by making a similar request to those who issue your driver's license, library card and building access card. 5 earth-friendly credit card moves you can make now

2. Earn green rewards: In response to consumer requests, many banks and card issuers now offer some form of green rewards to be used toward carbon offsets or donations to environmental groups. Affinity cards through organizations such as The Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy also make donations based on your card purchases. Think of it as cap-and-trade for the PVC in your wallet.

3. Request paperless statements: Paperless statements are one of the true win-win-win scenarios in the payments industry: Consumers save time, postage and, in some cases, receive incentives in the form of lower fees or investment minimums; banks and issuers save on printing and handling; and it all benefits the planet by reducing the carbon footprint of account billing. Here's a more detailed look at the pros and cons of going paperless.

4. Recycle your expired cards: You can recycle your PVC cards -- just don't mix them in with your household recyclables. Instead, find your closest post-consumer plastic recycling company. There are an estimated 1,800 in North America, according to the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers. One such company, Ohio-based Earthworks, recently launched its Retailer Gift Card Return Program with Half Price Books as its launch partner. If you're the crafty type, you can also creatively reuse your plastic cards.

5. Find an Earth-friendly bank: Some banks invest in a more earth-responsible manner than others. You can help them all by giving your banking business to a financial institution whose portfolio most reflects your ecological world view and gently nudging others to improve their environmental policies by voting with your feet. Green America Today is a good place to start your search.

See related: Card issuers struggle in vain to replace plastic cards, 8 crafty ways to recycle, reuse your plastic cards, Are paperless credit card statements right for you?, Some issuers charge a buck to send you a paper credit card statement

Updated: April 22, 2010



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