Caring for our environment is one of the three priorities defined in Westtown School’s Strategic Vision. To continue our important work in this area, we have been partnering with sustainability consultants, Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants. We asked them for some easy ways to be more sustainable in our everyday lives, especially in the holiday season. Below is a piece written by Hannah Riegel of Boyer Sudduth.
Give our planet a gift this holiday season by making an effort to be more intentional with how you wrap your presents. Each year, about 227,000 miles worth of wrapping paper gets thrown away: that is enough to circle the planet nine times! Not only does wrapping gifts create waste, but also consumers end up throwing away about $12.7 billion of wrapping paper, tissue paper, and gift bags .
While wrapping paper broadly falls under the category of “paper,” most rolls are not recyclable. Why? The addition of plastic coating, foil paper, cellophane, glitter, and sparkles makes this paper non-recyclable (AF&PA).
These staggering numbers illustrate the need for sustainable options. Here are five tips to wrap your gifts sustainably to help the planet AND save money!
- Swap Wrapping Paper with Fabric
Do you have leftover fabric lying around or a fabric store nearby? Use colorful fabric to brighten any present sustainably. The fabric can be reused for future presents or given as an additional gift. Add leaves or flowers for a personal touch. See resources below for hints on how to wrap your gifts in fabric.
- Upcycle Materials
Instead of looking to buy new git wrapping items, see if you can reuse or “upcycle” other materials you have at home. Get creative! Upcycle newspaper, comics, brown paper bags, glass jars, shipping boxes, or magazines and use them to wrap your gifts.
- Buy Sustainable Alternatives
Wrapping paper that contains sparkles, artificial textures, glossy finishes, labels, or plastic is non-recyclable. If you’re not sure, try this “scrunch test” to figure out whether your paper is recyclable. Scrunch the paper in your hand—if it stays in place, it can be recycled. If it expands, it can’t be (AF&PA). And what about those shiny, stick-on bows? They are non-recyclable. If you do choose to buy wrapping paper, be intentional with your choices and look for sustainable alternatives. Look for biodegradable tape, recyclable wrapping paper, and fabric ribbons.
- Skip the Wrap!
Create a new holiday tradition this year by not wrapping your presents at all. Instead, make a scavenger hunt and hide presents around the house. This solution will keep all materials out of the landfill, and add some fun to gift exchanges.
- Flatten Cardboard
This simple — yet overlooked — task can make a big difference in the recycling process, especially during the holiday season as the number of packages being delivered increases. Flattening cardboard allows for more room in your recycling bin, and it also reduces space in transport to the recycling facility.
We hope these tips will help you reduce your environmental footprint this holiday season. Get creative, have fun with it! And don’t be afraid to start saving the gift bags and ribbons you receive this year. You can re-use them for future gift giving. Remember every change, no matter how big or small is a step in the right direction towards a greener, more sustainable future!
- AF&PA: “How to Recycle Paper During the Holiday Season,”December 20, 2018
- NPAMANI: “Guilt-Free Wrapping Paper,” Nicole Pamani, December 2, 2020
- HuffPost: “It’s Officially Time To Ban Gift-Wrapping Paper,” Kate Bratskeir, December 9, 2020
- Hellonest: “DIY Fabric Gift Wrap,” Stephanie Pollard, December 15, 2020
- Buggyandbuddy: “DIY Gift Wrap (Furoshiki),” Chelsey, November 6, 2016
- Ecocult: “15 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Ideas,” Alden Wicker, December 1, 2021
- Ecowatch: “12 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Idea,” Melissa Smith, November 27, 2021