I don’t know if he was a troll or just a little out of touch.

A gentleman replied to the headline of my recent video, “Why You Shouldn’t Send Holiday Cards.”

“More trash to throw away, can’t recycle it.”

I thought, boy that’s cynical and ignorant. And maybe it was cynical, but it wasn’t ignorant in the way I thought.

Continuing the conversation, he elaborated that “you can’t recycle glossy paper.”

Who said anything about glossy?

And it reminded me of something a friend said to me long before I ever started this work. Though he painted people with a broad brush, the kernel of truth holds very true.

There was a period of time where glossy paper implied quality – even luxury.

It was a new technology and only people on the cutting edge (or with serious budgets) could afford such a luxury. From marketing materials to personal correspondence, glossy was chic.

But that pendulum has swung.

The technology behind glossy paper coatings is downright cheap. And those coatings help lower-quality print methods appear clearer.

Today, glossy print is gaudy and cheap. It’s bad costume jewelry.

I think there’s an even more important reason to skip the gloss, though: How your people experience your stationery.

Universal to the “glossy paper experience” (heretofore reffered to as “GPE”) is unsightly smudging. Fingerprints, oils, gunk. Glossy paper shows it all and the GPE is compromised by regular handling.

A more functional (and fatal) flaw of the GPE is one’s ability to write on glossy paper. It takes a certain kind of pen (cheap BICs tend to do well) to write on a glossy paper without smudging. Whether you’re penning your wedding invitation reply or noting important details on the back of a business card, that prized vintage Montblanc Meisterstuck will smudge for days.

Quality uncoated (or even matte coated) papers are relatively universal in their acceptance of ink.

Don’t make your people’s lives harder.

There is, however, a time when coated papers are preferred – photographs look tack-sharp on glossy photo paper. Combine that photo paper with a thick, letterpress-printed cotton rag for major wow factor.

Oh, and separate out your glossys when recycling.

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