Eco-Holiday Wrapping Tips

While most of us try to keep our waste footprint light throughout the year, the Holidays seem to take us off the cliff. Making the season merry & bright ends up burdening the planet with 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – amounting to one million extra tons of garbage each week! Americans discard an estimated 38,000 miles of ribbon, (enough to wrap around the planet) annually, and $11 billion worth of packing material. But by adjusting the types of wrapping paper, ribbons, cards, and packing materials we buy, we can make a serious dent in landfill bound holiday packaging waste.

This post catches most of us at the moment that we are running out to fortify our gift wrapping supply. Before you buy, here are some holiday-waste reducing tips to help lighten your footprint.

Holiday Packaging Waste Hacks

Don’t buy glittery or foil paper. All plain wrapping paper can go into paper recycling (along with paper boxes of course). Plain paper that has a colored print or design is fine – but glittery, shiny, plast-ICKY paper can’t be recycled!

Unless ribbons are cloth, string or paper, they are made of plastic. Your average curling ribbon and pre-made, adhesive backed bows are not recyclable. I shouldn’t have to say this, but you shouldn’t burn them either. Consider picking up grosgrain, jute, or paper raffia ribbon. It’s a one-time investment. I’ve been using the same ribbon for years! Just collect after all the gifts have been unwrapped and store with holiday wrapping. You’ll never be throwing away ribbon again.

Each year in the U.S., approximately 1.6 billion Christmas cards are sold. Many of these are recyclable. As with wrapping paper, avoid purchasing glossy or shiny cards to increase recyclability. For those that are shiny or foil-coated, cut off the front of the cards and reuse them as holiday postcards next year. Or cut into gift tags for packages year round!

All those stamped holiday card paper envelopes are recyclable because the Postal Service uses a biodegradable adhesive in its stamps. So you can toss your holiday card envelopes into your recycling bin without peeling off any seasonal stamps beforehand.

Bubble envelopes, like the blue & white amazon envelopes are actually recyclable. You must cut away any paper adhesive labels first. Then just pop it in the plastic bag recycling bin at your local grocery or drug store. This applies to plastic bubble wrap and air-filled plastic packing materials (pop the balloon type before disposing). Most grocery/drug stores that supply single-use plastic bags must offer a recycling option on the premises.

92% of boxes were recycled in the U.S. 2019. In 2021, why not upcycle usable boxes before they enter the recycling stream? Recycling boxes and paper require natural resources after all. green design GOODS uses upcycled boxes + paper and biodegradable packing materials exclusively for shipping.

Let’s lighten our footprint for the happiest of Holidays!

About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have. Also visit the Green Design Goods store for my favorite environmentally sustainable products.

2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. rebeckholt@aol.com' Rebecca Holt-Gilmore says:

    We at our house have been re-using boxes, bows and gift tags for years now. The gift tags have numerous crossed off names and are just re-wrtten. We also just repair old gift boxes…and use them year after year.

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