How to green holiday greetings

North Americans sent out over 2.6 billion Christmas cards last year and most of those cards ended up in a landfill. This year send out green seasonal greetings. E-cards It's no longer a faux-pas to send out holiday wishes via e-mail. In fact many environmental organizations are encouraging people to use e-cards. There is no shortage to choose from and many have animation with music. Get creative Make your own custom email cards by scanning in photos of the kids and adding a personal message. Why not put all those photos you've taken over the year to good use and create a photomovie that can be emailed to family and friends? MyElephantBites has created some brilliant software that transforms your photographs into unique 15 to 20 seconds films. They cost about the same as a greeting card but the money is donated to the World Land Trust. Borrow from others Send out e-mails from your favourite organization and introduce them to your circle of family and friends. The Nature Conservancy has created eight winter nature cards with messages like Peace on Earth or Happy Holidays to send out. The UK Friends of the Earth has a lovely selection of hand drawn or nature photo cards free for everyone. Yahoo has a good selection of animated e-cards with music that range from the inspirational to the terribly cute. Protect yourself Like anything sent via the Internet, you need to protect yourself. Scambusters recommends deleting any cards from senders you don't know and watch for those telltale signs of fake e-cards like spelling mistakes, suspicious names or and a URL that looks wrong. Don't open any attachments from unknown sources and keep your antivirus software up to date. Mozilla Firefox is the most secure browser to use since it's got built in safeguards. Recycled paper Sometimes you can't replace the sentimental value of a card. If you do want to buy paper cards then make sure to purchase cards made with recycled paper. The Junky Mail Joy card from Green Field Paper is the greenest card around. The company used all their junk mail for this 110 percent recycled greeting card. Their other cards are printed with soy ink on handmade paper or machine made hemp. Grow a Note paper and cards are embedded with a lovely blend of wildflower seeds so you can plant the card in the spring. The 'Lil Bloomer Collection also offers seasonal cards from wildflower seed paper. These plantable shapes can be used as Xmas ornaments before being planted in the spring. Directions for growing are printed on the back and the inside greeting says "May the seeds of joy and happiness be yours throughout the holiday season." Earth-friendly Doodle Greeting cards use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper free of any chlorine and acid, created with renewable energy. Their casual designs are fresh and fun. Make your own No prints, no pattern -- just a blank piece of paper and a chance for your imagination to take flight. Draw your own or use old cards to create your designs and greetings. Why not create holiday postcards and save the envelope? Glue your favourite photo onto some Bristol board, decorate it and pop it into the mail. Charity cards Help out your favourite organization by purchasing charity cards. These are great fund raisers for non-profit organizations like UNICEF, the Sierra Club of Canada, the Canadian Hearing Society or the Children's Aid Foundation. Charity Village has created a Holiday Giving Guide, listing cards and gifts from worthy organizations so you can find your favourite cause. It's the perfect way to spread holiday good wishes. Shelagh McNally is the editor of Green Living Online.