My lovely friend recently had her wallet stolen and told me she would have preferred if it had been her phone because of all the things she had to cancel. It’s a horrible experience and I completely sympathise with her. It also made me worry about what would happen if mine was stolen.
So I’m making it my business to whittle down the number of items in my wallet and to not accept any new cards that I don’t need!
I realised that beyond my bank, transit, and library cards I wouldn’t even remember what else was in my wallet. How would I know what to cancel if I don’t remember it? And if I don’t remember it does it matter? So I took everything out of my wallet and realised that this was one thing I definitely forgot to declutter. I haven’t signed up to any new loyalty schemes since I began reducing my waste but I still had plenty of plastic left in my wallet.
I visualised my ideal wallet and I would love to only carry my debit card, and transport card and nothing else. If I could get rid of these or combine them I would do it. Unfortunately this is not an option right now but there are definitely things I can reduce.
Plastic permanent Loyalty Cards –
I signed up to a few different loyalty schemes in the past because occasionally (like, very occasionally) it added up to a tiny discount. If I actually counted what it amounted to I reckon, over 10 years, maybe €15 but only when I bought much more ‘stuff.’ I don’t think I received any cash discounts in the past year.
Reasons NOT to sign up: (1) The only reason the company has this scheme is to keep you spending money in their store and to tempt you to buy what you don’t need by sending you paper vouchers and discounts. (2) They deliberately send you vouchers for products you’ve never bought and a token small discount for something you might sometimes buy to get you to buy more ‘stuff’. In the end these cards could cost you money. (3) The cards are plastic and eventually end up in the waste. Remember The first step to reducing waste is to refuse items you don’t need.
I thought it would be such a pain to cancel permanent loyalty cards especially when they send you out physical letters but actually there was no resistance at all from the companies. It felt GREAT! I’ve cancelled two so far for places I rarely shop in anymore because most of their items are plastic packaged. I have two more to go.
The fact that supermarkets know my consumer habits through these cards doesn’t particularly bother me but I find it amusing that so many people who are worried that governments are spying on their internet profiles happily give their local supermarket intimate insights into their life. So if you are concerned about privacy definitely cancel your loyalty cards.
I did it just because I don’t want to worry about whether or not I can find my loyalty card at the cash register. I can just say no I don’t have one and no I don’t want one. Really the discounts I make on these cards don’t amount to much or compensate for all the extra bother of trying to find it in a messy wallet full of cards. Plus I’m buying so much less ‘stuff’ now I don’t ever rack up the kind of points necessary for major discounts on things I do buy.
Paper loyalty cards:
My mission last week was to get rid of paper loyalty cards for once and for all and never accept one again. Let’s face it, the loyalty discounts don’t equate to a large amount of money. When I really want to save on coffee I make it myself in my office or at home. I haven’t accepted any new coffee loyalty cards for a year but for some reason they are still in my wallet. One of these cafes I went to because they sell coffee in a real mug with loose sugar from a jar with metal cutlery (no plastic or paper packets). Unfortunately I went to use my free coffee stamps and discovered the cafe is now a juice bar. I had a free sandwich from another shop but not only had it closed, but the building is currently being demolished! Dublin, you fickle creature!
There are things I have left in my wallet:
Debit and Credit card, student card, Dublin transport Leap card and Dublin Bikes card, archive and library cards for research, health insurance card and some mini photographs of loved ones that make me smile every time I see them.
The one exception – a museum membership card for the Science Gallery that also gives me a 10% discount in their cafe – this is one loyalty card I will keep because my membership supports the museum sector which I am passionate about, the same card can be updated every year and doesn’t need replacing, and their cafe is amazing and quite zerowaste friendly.
After opting out of my loyalty cards everything fits quite neatly into the pockets provided in my wallet.
My current wallet was a gift and is a good quality one that will last several years. When it is time to replace it I hope that I won’t need to because I aim to own so few cards that everything I need will fit in a small beautiful vintage purse I own. If you do need to replace your wallet then definitely consider a secondhand one or one without plastic in it. Don’t be tempted by the fast fashion ones because they break so quickly. A good wallet can last you years and years so chose wisely. Good luck!