In the United States, it is estimated we toss 25% more waste during the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let that sink in... this four week period accounts for one-quarter of our total annual waste. If we changed our habits just slightly, it can result in amazing benefits for Earth. For example, if every family chose to wrap three gifts in repurposed materials versus the typical wrapping paper, it would save enough paper to cover nearly 50,000 football fields.
Of course, we cannot get every American family to get on board all at once, but even just the smallest change makes a huge difference over time. Slowly but surely, our society is on the way to a more eco-friendly mindset!
As many of you know, we always recommend giving experiences versus material items. No excess clutter, no wasteful packaging... it's a win-win. You can read all about our minimalist gifting style in this blog post. We do still give each of our kids one material item per holiday, but always opt for eco-friendly wrap options.
Instead of using a typical roll of wrapping paper, curling ribbon, and bows, try the following:
- Repurpose paper grocery bags (simply cut, turn inside out, decorate with sharpie if desired, and voila!)
- Repurpose pages from magazines or newspapers (perfect for smaller gifts/ boxes)
- Do not limit yourself to paper - use thrifted baskets or vintage tins (customize the “wrap” based on the type of gift you are giving)
- Opt for a tea towel, cloth bag, or another functional wrap (check out our new eco-wrap bags)
- Instead of the plastic ribbons and bows, opt for fabric scraps and recyclable twine
- Choose natural embellishments like sprigs of Christmas floral
- Cut out pieces of recycled paper to create your own gift tags
If you receive gifts with wrapping paper or bags, no worries! Here are a few tips to help repurpose this waste.
Wrapping paper is literally made to be used once and then tossed. If it has foil embossments, glitter, or is laminated, it cannot be recycled. If it is a matte paper with no "bells and whistles", it should be recyclable/compostable, be sure to remove any tape, bows, or ribbon before tossing into the bin. Non-recyclable pieces can at least be repurposed for kids’ crafts, coloring pages, or even to wrap textbooks!
Save all the gift bags, ribbons, and bows to re-use them again and again.
We hope this helps to alleviate some stress (and waste) during the upcoming holiday season. Don’t forget - small steps by a few will eventually break the societal habits. Think of how far you have come in your eco-friendly journey. And, if you are just starting out, check out all the amazing zero waste posts we have on the blog.