Junk Mail Recycled as Greeting Cards

by Laura Thomas

While recycled paper products are definitely in vogue, it took a stationery company that was a pioneer in the field to come out with some attractive cards made from junk mail.

The cards are the latest in a product line from Green Field Paper Co. in San Diego that includes letterpress-style cards with embedded seeds that grow wildflowers; note papers from garlic, coffee beans and blue jeans; and journals and sketch books made of hemp.

Each handmade, one-of-a-kind card contains bits of the original recycled material.

“You might find part of a phone number or part of a person’s name,” says Shari Smith who, with her husband, Rick, bought the pioneering firm from founder Jeff Lindenthal in 2005.

They have continued its almost two-decade tradition of developing paper products from just about anything but trees.

The Smiths invite employees, customers and friends to quarterly parties where they bring in all their junk mail and throw it into a shredder while sifting out staples, coated paper, newsprint and solid red ink.

The shreds are then mixed with purchased pulp from recycled copy machine paper to add body and aesthetic quality. Each subsequent step from mixing, molding, drying and cutting the paper to the graphic work is done by Greenfield’s nine employees.

The new card designs were Smith’s idea. Greenfield had long produced blank notepapers from junk mail, which were hot sellers, but she decided they still weren’t inspiring enough and came up with five colorful graphic designs.

Printed with soy-based inks, two incorporate the earth with a sea turtle and a butterfly as main themes while another two use the well-known symbol for recycling. There is also a Christmas card.

The cards are sold in retail stores at $3.95 each, but can be purchased online at $14.95 for a box of four.

“It’s a first-class use for third-class mail,” Smith says, noting that the post office prefers that to the term, “junk mail.”