I have tried to "tone" down the backings a bit. I've been using patterned backgrounds for the past few years, but the more popular cards were done first. Those have solid colors and are ink heavy. I get most of the complaints about the animal cards
Another way to go about getting game cards without using the backings, is to use the handout maker
from Tools for Educators
. You can cut up the cards there and paste them on to colored card to make sets.
If you are making sets with nice photo paper, I don't imagine that will be your choice. So, as you get into further sets, hopefully you'll need less ink.