A sustainable alternative to business cards

Businessmen exchange business cards

Think about the bigger environmental impacts of that little piece of cardboard...

Business cards – they are so important for networking, and being so small, they often escape our environmental concern …at least until they start to stack up.  If you’re a born networker then you know what I’m getting at; business cards in random suit pockets, on the bedside table, or strewn across the desk at work.  If you are super organised, at best they will be in a neat pile somewhere.

But all this paper and printing adds up, while in its original form the humble business card isn’t all that useful – somehow that information needs to get from the card onto your computer or into your company’s database. If only there was a way to bypass even the need for printing business cards then the environment would be much healthier – but a quick internet search will only show you some greener options for printing cards at first.

The good news is that there are tools out there right now that can help take us beyond paper business cards. The first step is not so much an environmental issue, but it’s time to get rid of that pile of five year old business cards off your desk.  Not too quickly though, we still need to get the data off them, and there are some great tools out there.  Apple has a program called Evernote that can take photos of business cards, while LinkedIn has also launched a program called CardMunch.  CardMunch also takes photos of your business cards but will send the photos away to a room of typers somewhere who then copy the data from the photo into a list that syncs straight to your smart phone.

How is that environmentally friendly?  Well we have only used it to clean up your desk so far (why not start with your immediate habitat?) but now you can use this app to take a photo of a business card when you first meet a contact right there and then.  You no longer need to take their business card which means one less card for them to print next time. Getting in the habit of shooting them an email with your details once their data is on your computer is a clever way for you to use less cards as well. If enough people take these small actions, it can have a massive impact.

If you’d like to avoid printing cards at all and sending an email when you first meet someone seems like a bit of a hassle then there are also apps and programs that you can use for giving out an electronic version of your card.