How can gift cards contribute to a retailer's overall sustainability strategy?

On April 22nd, the world celebrated Earth Day: An annual event, dedicated to the environmental movement to raise awareness about the environmental crisis and the positive changes we can make to help to save our planet. As we watched our feeds light up with innovative initiatives from brands and retailers to integrate environmental sustainability into their core commercial strategies, we got to thinking about the ways in which gift cards can contribute to reducing a brand’s carbon footprint. 

Don’t believe there’s a link between gift cards and saving the environment? Let us prove you wrong. 


  1. Reduce Returns: According to the National Retail Federation, about 13% of retailers’ total holiday sales are returned. This percentage remains consistent around the year. Shipping returned goods contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and, whilst many believe that returned items go on to be sold at a later date, this is sadly not the case. In the US alone, five billion pounds of returned goods end up in US landfills each year, contributing to 15 million metric tons of carbon dioxide being released to the atmosphere. Gifting a gift card gives customers the freedom of choice to select their own gift, meaning they’re far less likely to want to return it. Reducing returns not only means reducing emissions, but increases profitability and customer satisfaction.


  2. E-gift cards: According to GCVA 2020 Gift Card and Incentive Sales Launch, the sales of digital gift cards doubled in 2020 in the UK. More and more brands and their customers are moving towards digital gift cards. About 65% of consumers now opt for digital gift cards over physical – a 33% increase compared to last year. Needless to say, the shift to digital gift cards cuts out unnecessary packaging, meaning less waste. 


  3. Recyclable material: Do your customers prefer physical gift cards over digital ones? You can still fulfil their demand whilst opting for an environmentally conscious alternative. There are plenty of gift card printers that produce high quality gift cards out of cardboard and other recyclable materials.


We’re living in a time where all companies, brands and retailers, no matter how big or small, share the responsibility of protecting our planet. Investing in gift cards can serve as just another necessary step in your overall sustainability plan. 

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