But this Christmas Government-sponsored waste cutters Envirowise are trying to encourage business to send electronic cards by email instead and donate the money saved to an environmental charity.

Traditional cards can last over 30 years in a modern landfill, largely unchanged by the passing of the years.

There is no charge for sending e-cards using the Envirowise scheme which saves money that would otherwise be spent on postage and the cards themselves as well as reducing waste and demonstrating a company’s commitment to the environment.

Envirowise programme director, Dr Martin Gibson said: “Christmas is possibly the time of year when we produce the most waste.

“We wanted to give businesses easy access to something they could use to help cut down on seasonal waste, without spoiling the fun of Christmas.

“A Christmas e-card system seems the ideal solution, especially as cards end up having such a disproportionate and long term environmental impact.”

The e-card system offers users a choice of ten designs, ranging from traditional Christmas scenes, to new twists on Christmas imagery and cards with an environmental message.

Every user can create personalised cards, by first selecting their preferred image and then adding a personalised message.

“The e-cards are easy to access and use,” said Dr Gibson.

“They provide businesses with an opportunity to keep in touch with customers and suppliers this Christmas whilst doing their bit for the environment.

“What is more, since the system is free to use, they will save a bit of money in the process.”

According to Envirowise, modern landfills are tombs that try to “mummify” waste.

Many materials that one would expect to degrade do so only very slowly. In the US, a team of “Garbageologists” identified the strata of their landfill excavations by reading the newspapers at the particular level.

Thirty-five year old papers have been found, as have ten year old carrots and 15 year old corn.

By Sam Bond

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