The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

February 21, 2014

Opting Out of Toxic Checkbook Covers


Have you ever considered your checkbook cover? If you’re like me, you might be so accustomed to paying bills online that you don’t even remember where your checkbook is.  But I’m thinking about mine today because of an article I just read in Environmental Health News. Apparently, Deluxe, the main provider of personal checks for most of America, has reached a settlement to remove a toxic phthalate called DEHP from its plastic checkbook covers by June 2015.  According to the organization Healthcare Without Harm, DEHP “can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system — particularly the developing testes….”  And the chemical is listed by the State of California as a carcinogen and male developmental toxicant.

Opting Out

Deluxe may be reformulating its covers, but who knows what chemical they will substitute for DEHP.  And the covers are still non-biodegradable plastic. So I called Deluxe today to find out how a customer could opt out of receiving a checkbook cover with their check order. The customer service rep I spoke with said that if you open your new account at the bank, you can ask your banker to request no checkbook cover when placing your initial check order.  And check reorders generally don’t come with another cover.  I’d love to find out if this actually works. I’m not planning on opening a new bank account any time soon, but if you are, please try this and let me know what happens.

Alternatives to plastic covers

I personally don’t need any checkbook cover because I don’t carry checks with me. But if you do, there are some cool, handmade, plastic-free alternatives. No, they’re not free like the one from Deluxe, but they look better and won’t leach toxic chemicals.

Search “checkbook cover” on Etsy, for example, for a handmade version.  Note that Etsy offers both vinyl (PVC, plastic, phthalates) covers and ones made from natural fibers, so check descriptions carefully.  Or try a Google search. After an obsessive little Google session this afternoon, I found my favorite: a simple hemp design from Artisan Gear. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t actually need this!


Or, if you’re crafty, consider making your own. Here is a list of DIY checkbook cover tutorials. Who knew there were so many?

After all these years of avoiding plastic in my life, I still get surprised. I wasn’t planning on writing about checkbook covers when I woke up this morning!



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Abby Lee

Do you know of a place to recycle checkbook covers and the like (birth control pill covers, pocket calendar covers, etc.) ???


I take birth control pills and every single box for every single one-month-supply pack (also made of plastic) has a new plastic (vinyl) cover just like a checkbook cover, only smaller. I have wondered for years why they do this and how in the world to stop it. I decided the manufacturers must be in cahoots. They are *completely* unnecessary.


Back in the 70s Deluxe offered leather check covers, you had to pay for them, but I still use mine, and the look and feel is better than plastic.

Tracey TieF

I have always asked for no covers with my cheques, like for 28 years (except for the first one, I think. I was too excited to consider this!). Or maybe I don’t always remember, because sometimes I got them. Last time I got cheques for my business, and for me, I got free pouches, no doubt made of plastic fabric. Maybe they thought this didn’t count. So next time I order, I’ll have to anticipate new waste. Also, the fricking boxes are vacuum sealed in plastic. Grrr. The thing that is so infuriating about trying to consume less plastic, is… Read more »


This is so strange – I have two cheque books (the French love them, and I have a French account). Neither of them came with covers, they have their own cardboard ‘book’ covers, and seeing neither live in my handbag, it works well!


I just ordered a new box of checks (2nd one in over 10 years) and it DID NOT include a check book cover, only checks. It did come from Deluxe.

Sharon Rowe

Several years ago I was able to order a canvas checkbook cover from one of the mail order check companies. They also had leather ones available. I think that was before Etsy, but I still like the idea of ordering from a large company to show them that people want an alternative to plastic.


Wow, plastic really is everywhere!


Wow, plastic is really everywhere!


Reminds me -again- how ubiquitous plastics and their poisons are in our daily lives. Thanks to you, we’re becoming more aware, proactive and thus healthier. We must be really close to a cashless society as, even being an old fogey, I only use checks for a couple of [really] local vendors who won’t take credit cards (plastic!=argh) and cash is only for the farmer’s market. I need to track my expenses, and cash is like water in my hands :-( Love posts having anything to do with finances, even peripherally, as it causes me to reexamine how we handle our… Read more »


I keep a few checks around for those rare occasions when a company doesn’t have online billing setup (that list is getting shorter and shorter). Along with just a few checks, the bank sent me a cover. I never gave the cover the slightest thought. Thank you so much for this post!

Beth Terry

Exactly my thought. But I do have one. It’s veeeerrrrryyyy old.

Suzanne Meyer

what is a cheque book, such a charming antiquated idea :) pay online of course, no bills to clutter up your mail box

Beth Whitaker

You can also use a 100% natural rubber band as I do.

Mark Gailmor

I have a hempbook cover as well as a recycled tire cover for my checkbook. Not that I ever use it. :)