During American holidays, an extra ton of waste is produced—25% more than during any other time of the year. Every week from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, nearly one million additional tons of garbage are produced in the United States. Holiday-related products—food, garments, party supplies, and wrapping paper—are never intended for reuse, and can't last beyond a day or two.
Everyone everywhere should care about paper waste. To get our napkins, pamphlets, and wrapping paper, large swaths of forest need to be cut down across the globe—everywhere from Oregon to Indonesia. If you plan on recycling your paper, less than 2/3 of paper actually ends of up being recycled.
CUT THE PAPER OUT
The papers used around the holiday — like papel picado for Día de los Muertos and wrapping paper for Christmas and Hanukkah — tend to be dyed, bedazzled, or laminated, which makes recycling a challenge. In Britain alone, 108 million rolls of wrapping paper will be thrown away over the holidays. And, while it's tricky to imagine this amount of paper spread out over time (like, 8 days during Hanukkah) it can be alarming to look at the huge pile at the end of the day each Christmas.
So, while the holidays are a time for family and for celebration, it remains necessary to think about how to give gifts to the planet during the holiday season. So, instead of using and tossing single-use wrapping paper, try some of these alternatives:
- CREATE YOUR OWN wrapping paper by holding on to comics, magazines, sheet music, old maps, and fabric scraps that you can then patch together.
- USE REUSABLE MATERIALS to wrap your gifts. You can use mason jars, baskets, or boxes, all of which you can decorate or personalize to make them a festive option.
- HAVE YOUR GIFT BE ITS WRAP! If you're gifting a scarf, mittens, or handkerchiefs they can be both the gift and the covering for another present.
This holiday season, step up your creativity and set down the wrapping paper and bows. These solutions to curbing paper waste might help you create a brand new family tradition to save the world.