Material Matters: Gift Wrapping & Holiday Waste

This post catches most of us at the moment that we are running out to fortify our gift wrapping supply. Before you buy, remember that all of those hours of list-making, shopping, and wrapping are summed up in 25% more household waste during the holidays. Here are some holiday-waste reducing tips to help lighten your footprint.

All plain wrapping paper can go into paper recycling (along with paper boxes of course). By plain I mean, nothing with glitter, shiny foil or plastic anything. Plain paper that has a colored print or design is fine

Guess what? Your average curling ribbon and pre-made, adhesive backed bows are not recyclable. Unless ribbons are cloth, yarn, twine, or paper (raffia), they are made with chemicals and can not be recycled. I shouldn’t have to say this, but you shouldn’t burn them either. Consider picking up grosgrain or yarn ribbon. It’s a one-time investment. I’ve been using the same red ribbon for years! I collect it after all the gifts have been unwrapped and store it with my holiday wrapping. You’ll never be throwing away ribbon again.

amazon-envelopeBubble envelopes, like the blue & white amazon envelope – as well as the heavy plastic envelopes that many stores use to ship – are actually recyclable. You must cut away any paper adhesive labels first. Then just pop them in the plastic bag recycling bin at your local grocery or drug store or materials recovery facility/recycling center. 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 are required to offer a recycling option on the premises.

Your choices matter. That is, your choices of materials consumed daily, weekly… yearly. Because all materials generally have an end of life  – whether we are talking about single-use packaging or your retired yoga pants. 

As a New Year’s experiment, try a  daily or weekly audit of the waste you create. Before source separating your waste, collect everything in one bag that would normally be disposed of  – even recyclables (but no food waste obviously). The idea is find solutions and alternatives for the waste you generate. Some obvious solutions are a reusable bottle and coffee cup. How about a cloth napkins and reusable straws? What about solid shave creams and a forever chrome razor? Reusable bags should be a religion by now, but I’m still stunned by the amount of single-use plastic bags I see walking around NYC.

Consider investing in your own reusable containers for everyday materials that you would generally throw in the trash. I created green design GOODS to provide a one-stop shop for all your natural and reusable product needs. There is even a category called ‘Reusables’! Hopefully this will be a helpful resource for shrinking your waste-footprint.

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!

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.

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