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Plastic-Free Living

Low-Waste Holiday Gift Wrapping

December 17, 2019


Written by: Natalie Henderson, Marketing @Blueland

It’s‌ ‌no‌ ‌secret‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌season‌ ‌can‌ ‌create‌ ‌a‌ ‌lot‌ ‌of‌ ‌waste, with everything from trash bags of wrapping paper to holiday food waste. While‌ ‌this‌ ‌season‌ ‌is‌ ‌centered‌ ‌around‌ ‌thoughtfulness,‌ ‌it‌ ‌can‌ ‌also‌ ‌be‌ ‌filled‌ ‌with‌ ‌excess‌ ‌and‌ ‌waste.‌ ‌Did‌ ‌you‌ ‌know‌ ‌we‌ ‌throw‌ ‌away‌ ‌25%‌ ‌more‌ ‌trash‌ ‌between‌ ‌Thanksgiving‌ and ‌New‌ ‌Year’s‌ Day ‌than‌ ‌any‌ ‌other‌ ‌time‌ ‌of‌ ‌year?‌ ‌Luckily,‌ ‌there‌ ‌are‌ ‌plenty‌ ‌of‌ ‌ways‌ ‌to‌ ‌celebrate‌ ‌the‌ ‌holidays‌ ‌and‌ ‌be‌ ‌friendly‌ ‌to‌ ‌our‌ ‌environment. Holiday gift wrapping is a great place to start. ‌

How Much Waste Is Generated From Holiday Wrapping?

You‌ ‌might‌ ‌think‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌being‌ ‌mindful‌ ‌by‌ ‌recycling‌ ‌your‌ ‌wrapping‌ ‌paper‌ ‌after‌ ‌the‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌season, ‌‌but‌ ‌you‌ ‌may‌ ‌be‌ ‌doing‌ ‌more‌ ‌harm‌ ‌than‌ ‌good. ‌This‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌season,‌ ‌try‌ ‌avoiding‌ wrapping paper ‌altogether.‌ ‌Every‌ ‌year, ‌‌Americans‌ ‌discard‌ ‌over‌ ‌4‌ ‌million‌ ‌pounds‌ ‌of‌ ‌wrapping‌ ‌paper.‌ ‌To‌ ‌get‌ ‌an‌ ‌idea‌ ‌of‌ ‌how‌ ‌much‌ ‌that‌ ‌‌actually‌ ‌‌is, ‌it’s ‌about‌ ‌5,787‌ ‌NFL‌ ‌football‌ ‌fields‌ ‌worth‌ ‌of‌ ‌wrapping!‌ As for ribbon, we throw away about 38,00 miles worth of ribbon every year. ‌

Non-Recyclable Holiday Wrapping

1. When‌ ‌it‌ ‌comes‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌holidays, ‌‌recycling‌ ‌can‌ ‌get‌ ‌complicated. ‌Many‌ ‌wrapping‌ ‌papers‌ ‌are‌ ‌laminated‌ ‌or‌ ‌include‌ ‌plastic‌ ‌additives, ‌‌which‌ ‌means‌ ‌they‌ ‌can’t‌ ‌be‌ ‌recycled‌ ‌like‌ ‌regular‌ ‌paper.‌ ‌Foil‌ ‌wrapping‌ ‌paper‌ ‌or‌ ‌glitter‌ ‌paper‌ ‌also‌ ‌can’t‌ ‌be‌ ‌recycled.‌ ‌Unfortunately,‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌not‌ ‌just‌ ‌wrapping‌ ‌paper‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌wary‌ ‌of.‌ ‌Tissue‌ ‌paper‌ ‌is‌ ‌usually‌ ‌dyed and normal curbside recycling programs won’t recycle it.

2. Plastic‌ ‌tape:‌ ‌Plastic‌ ‌tape‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌recyclable.‌ ‌Not‌ ‌only‌ ‌does‌ ‌that‌ ‌tape‌ ‌itself‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌go‌ ‌into‌ ‌the‌ ‌trash,‌ ‌but‌ ‌plastic‌ ‌tape‌ ‌can‌ ‌easily‌ ‌taint‌ ‌recyclable‌ ‌wrappings.‌ ‌

3. When‌ ‌sending‌ ‌out‌ ‌cards,‌ ‌keep‌ ‌in‌ ‌mind‌ ‌that‌ ‌most‌ ‌photo‌ ‌paper‌ ‌with‌ ‌foil‌ ‌or‌ ‌ribbon‌ ‌attached,‌ can’t ‌be‌ ‌recycled.‌ ‌Opt‌ ‌for‌ ‌sending‌ ‌e-cards‌ ‌instead!‌ ‌We‌ ‌recommend‌ ‌using‌ ‌a‌ ‌company‌ ‌like‌ ‌Minted.‌ ‌ ‌

You can still wrap your gifts beautifully this year, and keep it low-waste! We have some tips on how to keep your presents festive and sustainable!

Low-Waste Gift-Wrapping:

Most wrapping isn’t recyclable. In fact, if you mix your non-recyclable wrapping paper in with your other recyclables, the whole batch of paper is contaminated and will likely get thrown out. Wrapping with less doesn’t have to mean less beautiful or less fun. There are plenty of ways to wrap your gifts plastic-free. Check out some low-waste alternatives:

  • Decorative baskets: Baskets not only present well but they can be reused year after year for both gifting and storage. We have found great options from InspiredWrapsCo and crafts stores like Michaels.
  • Fabric wraps: Fabric wraps make a great replacement for wrapping paper. You can find them at home with tea towels or scarves, or you can purchase from places like ReThinkGiftWraps. Add a ribbon or twine to complete the package.
  • Brown paper packages: Brown paper packages are still some of our favorite things. Repurpose a brown paper grocery bag and use it as wrapping paper! You may have one lying around your home or borrow from a neighbor. We like using paper grocery bags, turning them inside out and removing the handles. Then. Just use like traditional wrapping paper. Just tie up your package with string or twine to keep it low waste! Paper bags are usually recyclable, so be sure to recycle after opening!
  • Fabric ribbons: Fabric ribbons and bows are a great alternative to plastic ribbon, that can’t be recycled. You can reuse ribbons from old packages, get some fabric scraps from a fabric store or use natural twine. You can find great options from LinenLark and MCSupplies.
  • Replace plastic tape: Twine and ribbon make great replacements for fastening gifts, but sometimes you still need some tape. Try Washi tape instead of plastic tape this year. Washi tape comes in colors and patterns that add to your gift décor and it is often compostable!
  • Plastic-free gift tags: Seed paper tags and cards are perfect to give back to the environment over plastic tags. You can find great options at BotanicalPaperWorks.
  • The final touches: Instead of adding a plastic ribbon or bow to your package, go to nature or the kitchen to add that final touch. Adding a pine-tree branch (which you can usually find as a scrap at a tree farm) or a cinnamon stick or even dried lemons or grapefruit make a great decorative addition to gifts. Plus, unlike plastic bows and ribbons you can compost these kitchen items when you’re done.

Give these low-waste gift wrapping ideas a try this holiday season!


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