No doubt most of you are finishing up your holiday shopping this week and throwing in the towel on shopping for a VERY long time (anyone else as DONE as I am??!?) Next up? Getting to the daunting task of wrapping all those goodies up in time for Santa's arrival. And while there are so many pretty, shiny, eye catching prints on rolls upon rolls of wrapping paper and ribbon in every store, the majority of that wrapping paper and ribbon isn't recyclable due to the shiny, sparkly coatings/prints and will just end up in landfills contributing to a HUGE waste problem that is threatening our planet more and more each and every year.
According to an article written by Stanford University, "Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week! If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields." And that's just in the US alone! Think of what the entire global impact is during the Holidays. We have the power to change these startling statistics and it starts with each and every one of us doing our part.
Luckily there are many chic and stylish eco-friendly ways to wrap your gifts that are not only sustainable but often easier on the pocket too (double win!)
Here are some of my new favorite ways to wrap it up without the waste:
1. Reusable Cloth
It can be reused by the recipient as a hand towel/dish rag/or for gift wrap again and requires no tape (which can't be recycled and amounts to large quantities of waste). It's cute and creative and can be found in your own home! I found this burlap cloth in my garage and didn't need to spend a dime. Just tie it up with some twine and you're all set.
2. Recyclable Paper Wrap
Most wrapping paper is not recyclable becuase of the shiny prints and metallic coatings that are extremely toxic to the environment. If you opt for paper, go for one that's made from recycled paper or at the very least can be recycled. Remove any tape used and save for next year or put in the recycling bin. This simple paper is chic, easily recyclable and gives the feel of a rustic, old time country/family Christmas which I love.
3. Repurposing Other Types of Paper
I found this sheet music in an old piano book that wasn't getting any love in our home. The paper is pretty and completely recyclable. It's chic and unique which always wins over store bought and predictable. An added plus? If the recipient is a musician you could wrap the box in the whole song so that they could put that sheet music to use.
Other types of paper you could repurpose?
Old maps, newspaper, old comic strips, magazine clippings...and of course reusing old wrapping paper from previous years. If you receive a gift from someone that is wrapped in non recyclable wrap, unwrap it carefully and save it so that it can at the very least be reused, helping to reduce this year's waste.
4. Swap Out Plastic Ribbons/Bows for Twine and Real Greenery
Plastic ribbon may be cheap and pretty, but the cost on our environment is expensive and hazardous. Stylish yet sustainable solution? Twine and greenery cut straight from your tree. It's a much more personal touch and the tradition of using clippings from the family tree dates back to the late 1800s making it rich with tradition which is at the heart of the Christmas Spirit. Faux tree? No problem! You can go to a tree lot and ask for spare clippings from sold trees. I was recently told that Home Depot does this and I imagine that most lots do too.
100% natural jute twine is biodegradable and made without any toxic chemicals so it will break down safely. If it's dyed, just make sure the dye is non toxic. It's cheap and sold online and at every arts and crafts store.
5. Recyclable Name Tags
Sticker name tags aren't reusable or recyclable. An easy, sustainable and far more stylish option is to use name tags cut out from recyclable card stock or card board. They can be cut into festive shapes and attached with twine.
While you're celebrating the Season and exchanging gifts with loved ones who might not be as informed or conscious of the environmental impact of typical holiday gift wrap and waste, be the one who brings a bag to recycle and lead by example by only giving out eco friendly wrapped gifts. Without preaching or judging, kindly offer up encouragement on how to create less waste this year and in the years to follow. Most people are simply acting out of habit and convenience and aren't aware that they're actions are perpetuating harm. We've all been there! So have compassion, be grateful for their generosity and speak gently while offering up positive solutions.
I hope these suggestions help and that you all enjoy a wonderful and less wasteful Holiday. I believe we can all thoroughly indulge in celebration while still being mindful and reducing our impact on the environment so that our children and their children can continue to enjoy many Christmases to come on this beautiful and sacred planet of ours.