How Green are MOO Business Cards?

MOO is a popular choice for printing business cards. Heck, I printed my cards on their recycled cotton stock. But, how green are MOO business cards, actually? I did a deep dive into their paper stocks to find out! This included scouring MOO’s website, emailing MOO customer service, and researching the Mohawk papers MOO uses.

MOO’s paper stock options

MOO offers four different paper stocks for business cards: original, cotton, super, and luxe. Original is their least expensive option, cotton and super are in the middle, and luxe is their most expensive. Additionally, they offer a few other finish options. Design options for their super stock include gold foil, silver foil, spot gloss, and raised spot gloss. These options are inherently detrimental to the environment, but, more on that later. Aside from their super stock, MOO offers the option to add letterpress (a great green graphic design wow-factor) on their luxe cards.

So, we have paper options at a range of pricing. We have additional finishes we can add to each paper. But, what about the paper itself? This was surprisingly tricky to find information on. The cotton and luxe cards are printed on stock from Mohawk. However, the original and super cards are not linked to a paper company on MOO’s site. For those stocks, I reached out to customer service. The information they provided greatly helped my mission to find out how green MOO business cards could be.

MOO Original Business Cards

MOO Original Business Card
If I was labeled as a single-use plastic, which is what I am, would you still want me?

The information customer service provided on the original business cards was wild. I went into this thinking “okay, original business cards being the cheapest option probably aren’t going to be the greenest but, they’re probably an okay option.” Boy was I wrong.

In reply to my questions, MOO began their answer by hyping up some of their papers and then dropped this bombshell towards the end, “As for the Original and Super paper stocks, these are not considered recyclable due to the laminates.” I was shocked! MOO is providing paper stocks that aren’t recyclable and aren’t telling anyone about it publicly on their website.

This is such important information. Just like how you want to know what’s in your food so you know what you’re putting into your body, you should have a right to know what’s in the materials you purchase so you know what you’re putting into the environment.

Looking back at MOO’s business card sample pack, it makes sense they have a laminate because of their plastic feel. But, not everyone orders a sample pack to decide on paper stock. So, anyone who orders the original cards because they’re the cheapest option, isn’t going to necessarily know about the laminate. Because of this, they aren’t going to know they are putting more single-use plastics into this world.

MOO Cotton Business Cards

recycled cotton paper
The most green of MOO business cards.

The disappointment from their original cards thankfully does not apply to the MOO cotton cards. This paper stock is the greenest of the MOO business cards. First, it’s not made from trees, it’s made from cotton. Second, the cotton comes from t-shirt scraps that would otherwise have been wasted. Third, the paper is acid-free and 100% recycled. And, lastly, it can be recycled with the rest of your normal paper. So, MOO’s cotton business cards already have 4 positives over the original paper stock! And, they have a beautiful texture and a matte finish. They’re absolutely wonderful!

The benefits don’t end there, though. Mohawk produces this paper using wind energy, which is a huge plus. It is also Green-e Certified and FSC Certified. Read more about this paper line here or view the paper specs here.

MOO Super Business Cards

super square business card
Super as in…super damaging to the planet.

If your heart was as broken as mine about the MOO original business cards, pour yourself a drink before this section because there’s no good news here. As previously stated, the super cards are not recyclable due to the laminate on the paper. The laminate gives these cards a luxurious, waterproof, and tear-proof finish. This is widely known and referred to as “soft touch.”

The laminate on soft touch cards is made of plastic. This is what provides the feel and benefits that make them desirable to so many. While it’s a huge issue that these are widely created and used, that’s not the only problem. There is no statement to tell potential customers that these are not recyclable or even that they contain plastic. This is not acceptable.

A simple statement would stop so many from purchasing soft touch. How many people would purchase these if there was a big disclaimer saying “I am not recyclable, I am a single-use plastic,” next to them? I’m guessing not many. And that’s why there is no disclaimer. It seems big companies don’t care about doing what’s right, they care about their bottom line. It’s the capitalist society we live in. It doesn’t matter how they exploit the planet, its resources, or its people to make a profit. But, that must change if we want this planet to continue to be inhabitable for generations to come.

Optional Finishes for Super Cards

spot gloss finish
Plastic soft touch with plastic spot coating, what more could you want (to never see again)?

If the plastic soft touch laminate wasn’t creating enough damage to the environment, great news! The foils and spot coatings will increase this damage! (That was sarcasm…you got that, right?)

Foils contain heavy metals and toxins. Adding a foil also renders a paper unrecyclable. So, a piece of paper with a foil accent will end up in a landfill. Once there, it will breakdown and the toxins from the foil will leak into groundwater and soil. This, in turn, damages people’s lives and health. Is this worth it for a pretty accent? I think not.

The spot coatings, like the soft touch laminate, contain plastic. The soft touch finish already makes a business card a single-use plastic but, these coatings would do the same even if used independently from the soft touch. And, this is not true for just MOO business cards, this is true no matter where you produce them (learn more in Our Green Graphic Design Standards post).

There are zero redeeming qualities to the super business cards. If super cards were the only option, my answer to the question of, “how green are MOO business cards?” would be not in the slightest. So, avoid MOO super business cards at all costs. They’re not worth the impact on the planet.

MOO Luxe Business Cards

luxe card with color strip
Luxurious, matte finish with a pop of color.

Unlike the super business cards, the luxe cards are middle-of-the-road when it comes to environmental impact. They are made using Mohawk’s Superfine Paper. This paper is produced using wind energy, is FSC Certified, and is Green-e certified. So, while the paper is not made from recycled material, they are doing everything else as green as possible in their production process.

A point of concern for these cards, though, was the fact that paper is glued together to get a colorful stripe in the middle. But, MOO customer service informed me that since “the cards do not have an excessive amount of glue, they are considered recyclable.” Which is great news! MOO, however, was not able to provide me any more specifics on the glue.

While these cards are created with ethically sourced paper and can be recycled, it is worth noting they use much more paper than any other MOO business card. These are thick cards and a lot of the paper is stuck in the middle. So, while they have a lot of things going right, these are still not the greenest MOO business cards and cotton would be a better option.

MOO’s ink and printing processes

We’ve covered MOO’s paper, but what about their ink and printing processes? These, while less of an impact than the paper choice, are still important to consider. MOO prints business cards using polymer-based inks. These inks are much less eco-friendly than their soy- and vegetable-based ink counterparts. However, the ink does get removed in the deinking process when recycled.

So, you still want to use MOO?

Now that we’ve covered how green MOO business cards are, you have a choice to make. It’s not realistic to get everyone to boycott MOO (although, I will no longer be using them for my business cards or any other materials). They are a convenient, low-cost option even if not the most sustainable or ethical (remember, a local printer would be much better for a variety of reasons). If you do decide to use MOO, though, please take your environmental impact into consideration. Choosing the original or super business cards will create single-use plastic. But, if you choose a cotton or luxe card, the planet will thank you.

The email transcripts

I’m all about being transparent in my research. So, below you will find the emails that I exchanged with MOO customer service.

AMY | INITIAL MESSAGE | JUN 24, 2020 | 10:05 PM GMT+1

MOO | REPLY | JUN 25, 2020 | 11:10 PM GMT+1

AMY | REPLY | JUN 26, 2020 | 1:43 PM GMT+1

MOO | REPLY | JUN 26, 2020 | 10:04 PM GMT+1

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