For the 16th year in a row, gift cards will be the most requested present of the holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.
More than 3.4 billion were sold in the United States, generating $173 billion in sales in 2021 alone.
While many cards are often left in wallets or drawers, some just end up in the trash. Even worse, many end up getting illegally dumped in countries like Turkey, India and Mexico.
Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator is founder of Beyond Plastics which aims to reduce single-use plastic.
"These polyvinyl chloride cards are on the naughty list this year," said Enck.
Enck said polyvinyl chloride, known as PVC, isn't just bad for the environment, it's also bad for your health.
"Its main ingredient is a chemical called vinyl chloride, and that is a human carcinogen," said Enck.
While it is safe to handle PVC cards it's not safe to make or dispose of them because PVC is toxic.
But the good news is that there's sustainable gift card options like paper cards or e-cards, which have zero waste.
To step it up a notch, consumers can ask stores to stop selling PVC cards and switch to paper.
"This holiday season, if consumers really care about environment and health. We want them to think twice before reaching for a PVC plastic card," said Enck.