What Are Tree-Free Greeting Cards?

November 25, 2022 3 min read

What Are Tree-Free Greeting Cards? Image of forest with panda looking on.

You may have heard about tree-free paper as a sustainable alternative, but what are tree-free greeting cards, and how do they help the planet?

Today, we explore what the label means. Plus, why it could be the best eco-friendly option for greeting cards for all occasions.

Read on to learn more and discover the amazing alternatives there are out there. 

What Do Tree-Free Greeting Cards Mean?

Tree-free paper, cardboard and newsprint are defined as an alternative to wood-pulp paper. It is made up of raw material mixes which do not use hardwoods or softwoods usually used to make cards. Many trees are used to make paper, including spruce, pine, fir, larch, hemlock and eucalyptus. Softwood coniferous trees are used for about 85% of the trees whose wood pulp is used for paper production. Millions of trees are cut down annually to make greeting cards across the world. 

On the other hand, tree-free cards are usually made from different plant fibre sources. Some come from agricultural waste like sugarcane bagasse, husks and straw. Others are from textiles and clothing production, such as cotton linters. Many tree-free cards are produced from fibre crops specifically grown for this use, amongst other things. Bamboo, kenaf, hemp, jute, and flax are all common tree-free paper alternatives.

What Alternative Tree-Free Greeting Cards

So, now know what tree-free means, we want to explore some of the most common options in more detail. We’ve chosen to showcase bamboo, hemp, sugarcane and cotton linters. 


We use 75% bamboo (along with 25% cotton linter) in our greeting cards. We think it’s the ultimate tree-free alternative, and here’s why.

  • Bamboo is fast growing. It can reach maturity in 3 to 4 years, instead of 30 years like a spruce tree, making it a more renewable resource.
  • It does not need pesticides or fertilisers to grow effectively, it is a very self-sufficient plant.
  • Bamboo forests are naturally rich in biodiversity, and that includes bamboo farms. They are our natural habitat, as well as for many of our forest friends.
  • The bamboo plant holds on to more carbon and produces more oxygen than traditional trees, helping combat the greenhouse gas effect. 
  • These bamboo areas can also help prevent soil erosion. This is a bonus for biodiversity and reduces the risk of climate events like landslides and flooding. 


Hemp is another super plant with a beneficial impact on the planet.

  • It’s fast-growing and grows densely, meaning more materials can be created from a smaller footprint than traditional tree forests.
  • Hemp is resistant to pests and needs little care, reducing pesticide and fertiliser consumption that can damage local wildlife. 
  • Instead of depleting the soil, hemp has been shown to replenish soils with important nutrients. 
  • It uses a lot less water to grow, helping reduce water usage so this precious resource can be used for labour-intensive crops. 

Sugar Cane

Sugar cane produces sugar which we use for sweet treats and delicious desserts. However, the bi-product of sugar production can leave a lot of plant waste in the end. This waste is called bagasse. This can be processed to create wood pulp for greeting cards, just like a tree. It’s beneficial for the earth in many ways.

  • Reduces waste by using the bagasse instead of chucking it away.
  • Sugarcane grows very quickly, which makes it more renewable.
  • Paper made from sugar cane is biodegradable and does not need toxic chemicals to process it. 

However, the majority ofsugar cane production can be taxing on the environment, so it's essential we encourage better farming practices. Reduced reliance on fertilisers and pesticides, as well as better farm management, are key steps. It’s still a great tree-free card alternative, but many improvements need to be made. 

Cotton linter

We also use cotton linter in our cards. This textile industry's bi-product is the cotton plant's short-lengthed fibres. Longer fibres are used for fabric, and the rest is usually discarded. So, cotton linters have a significant eco-impact by saving it from waste. A perfect tree-free alternative. 

  • Reduces waste in the textile and clothing industry, which is one of themost polluting industries in the world.
  • It saves new trees from being cut down, giving it that tree-free stamp of approval.

Cotton production can be very water, pesticide and fertiliser intensive, so more work need to be done on farms to switch to more sustainable methods.  

Panda Joy’s Tree Free Greeting  Cards

Now you know what are tree-free greeting cards and why they are so good for the planet. Check out our range oftree-free greeting cards, which use bamboo and cotton linter. They are fully recyclable, biodegradable and completely plastic free too. We are committed to helping the planet however we can. So, one-third of our profits go tocharitiessupporting the environment and communities worldwide.