Ah the holidays. Freezing temperatures. Bone chilling winds. White stuff falling from the sky. (Sarcastic yay) .... but luckily for Louisiana we "normally" don't get these things in winter except for like 1 week, then it's spring! However it's cold here (by our standards) and I'm not okay with that. But I do know that when it's cold that means Santa is coming soon! (It's kinda like Punxsutawney Phil, he thinks he can predict spring but at least I know when Santa is coming!) The holidays means glitter, bows, wrapping paper, and card board - oh my! Even though these presents sit pretty under the Christmas tree, these items can bring havoc to our environment. Earth911 estimates that approximately 4.6 million lbs. of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year, and that about 2.3 million pounds ends its life in landfills. A common mistake many people make around the holidays is loading their recycling bins with wrapping paper, tissue, ribbons, and more. Unfortunately, the shiny, laminated paper is, in fact, not recyclable in most circumstances. Including it in the bin with other paper products can make an entire load unrecyclable. (1)
So today, I'll give a little overview on the do's and don'ts of recycling in the holidays.
360waste.com suggests what should be obvious: "Save and reuse gift bags, ribbons and bows for next year—it's smart for the environment and for your wallet." I know my mom does this and I do it too, except now I have a huge surplus of random wrapping items so know what your limit is. They also suggest to "think twice when it comes to wrapping paper. Standard wrapping paper should be recycled, but anything with glitter or foil belongs in the trash (or save it for next year). Generally, the fancier the wrapping paper, the less recyclable it is." (2)
Earth 911 suggests: "If wrapping paper is metallic, has glitter on it, or has a texture to it, it is not recyclable. However, unlaminated paper-based wrapping paper and pre-recycled wrapping paper are usually recyclable. A good way to test, as the BBC reported last year, is to crush wrapping paper into a ball. If it stays bunched up, it is more than likely recyclable." (1)
So now I feel like I'm better off just giving the gifts without fancy presentation. What other options do I have?
American Disposal Services (3) gives a lot of great ideas on how to be environmentally consciousness around the holidays:
Use newspaper to wrap. - Now I know to most moms out there, fancy wrapping paper with big giants bows and fancy name tags is what Christmas decorating is all about (count my mom in for this one) BUT trust me - when opening gifts I do not care what it looks like wrapped. Your lovely wrapping paper and fancy bow will be destroyed when the kids are trying to get to the good stuff. Save yourself some time and money and use the newspaper option, even just once and who knows - you might stick with it.
Gift bags. Many gift bags come in non-dyed, non-laminated paper stock (see right). Although these bags do not have all of the sparkle and shine that others may have, you can spruce up your gifts by stamping or decorating your own recyclable bags. If you have children, it may make for a very fun holiday activity decorating and creating your family's special holiday gift-giving bags. - I love gift bags. Anyone can save and reuse them plus with a little tissue paper they can look really fancy!
Make the gift wrap a part of the gift. Some examples are scarves, soft blankets, or reusable shopping bags. - Genius! I will totally try this!
Okay, now I feel better about the presentation of my gifts while also being conscious of the environment. I plan on going green this year to save some green (in my wallet as well as the earth!).
Thanks for reading and check out our YouTube channel for the video to match this blog about holiday recycling. It'll be posted next week! Remember to always be ready to be the #superhero and #savetheworld!
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