While clearing out my room for a move, I found 32 old plastic membership cards hidden away in my drawers and cupboards – are they really necessary?
32 old cards! My impressive collection spans a few years and consists of loyalty cards for supermarkets, restaurants, coffee chains, health stores and stationery shops.
And that’s not to mention a couple of years’ worth of membership cards for libraries, gyms, leisure centres and breakdown cover.
Why have they all been stashed away and forgotten? Because I don’t need to physically use any of them.
Switching to apps
I’m a fairly casual points and rewards collector, mostly using apps on my phone to store my loyalty card details.
Whenever I’m buying groceries or eating out, I just scan the barcodes stored on my phone to collect my points, or hand over my membership number.
If I need to find my membership number or any other details, I search my emails or check my apps.
I never take my gym card with me when I go, as it operates a pin system on the door. The same goes for my local library when checking out books.
Yet we’re still being sent or issued with unnecessary cards.
I recently signed up to a high street department store’s loyalty scheme at the till. The cashier encouraged me to download their app on the spot to get a discount on my shopping.
This app has everything I’d need. It contains my membership information, shows my points balance, and can be scanned in store when making a purchase to collect or spend points.
However, a week later I received a completely pointless points card that I’ll never use, plus two smaller cards for my keys.
I also recently received a completely useless card from an online streaming service, complete with unnecessary but important-looking hologram, welcoming me as a member.
These cards aren’t only creating unnecessary clutter or filling up all the slots in our wallets – when trying to get rid of mine I’ve discovered that they generally can’t be recycled.
So unfortunately they went straight off to landfill, where they’ll now sit for hundreds of years.
If everyone in Britain has as many cards as me lying around, or even more over a lifetime, this is an incredible amount of plastic waste.
I’m not sure why retailers are still sending them out. Is there huge demand for loyalty/membership cards?
Or are they relics of a pre-smartphone world that have never really been questioned? Are companies just trying to make us feel special?
I understand that not everyone has, or is able to, use a smartphone. Perhaps cards could be requested if needed, rather than sent out automatically. What do you think?
I feel that if they were scrapped, we’d have a little less clutter around the home, and less of our personal information lying around, too. Companies would also say themselves money, and do a bit more for the environment at the same time.
Have you got old cards lying around the house? Do you think they’re necessary?