The most wonderful time of the year is also the most wasteful time of the year. Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year, according to Stanford University.
Between holiday cards, wrapping paper and product packaging, the extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week.
Here are some ideas for reducing waste this gift-giving season.
A bad wrap
Many wrapping papers can’t be accepted for recycling because they are dyed, laminated or contain non-paper additives like gold and silver colored shapes, glitter or plastics. Instead of purchasing rolls of wrapping paper, try some of these thrifty and creative ideas:
• Simply reduce the amount of wrapping paper and other supplies you buy. If every American family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields, according to use-less-stuff.com.
• Save gift bags, boxes and tissue paper throughout the year to reuse during the holidays.
• Instead of buying wrapping paper, repurpose items like newspaper comics, colorful magazine pages, old maps, sheet music or paper bags to make your own wrapping paper.
• Present gifts in reusable containers like cloth bags, glass jars, baskets, decorative tins, etc.
• Instead of buying ribbons, bows and other trimmings, personalize gifts with old brooches, costume jewelry, game board pieces or small toys.
• Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping gifts in cloth. A scarf, tablecloth or throw blanket could double as gift wrap. Find a how-to PDF here: //bit.ly/2QtzsGB.
Making a list and checking it twice
Gift giving is half the fun of the holiday season, but picking out the perfect gift for everybody on your list can be expensive, stressful and even wasteful. Gifts like brand new toys and electronics come with a pile of packaging that often ends up in the landfill. Here are some thoughtful gift ideas for reducing waste and saving time and money.
• Choose sustainable gifts like items made with recycled materials and gifts that don’t require batteries such as wooden toys and board games.
• Pick a DIY project and create a homemade gift. Some ideas are baked goods, artwork or a collection of family recipes. Pinterest and YouTube are great sources for ideas.
• Offer your expertise or a helping hand. Are you a talented photographer? Give a photo session as a gift. Can you spare a weekend? Offer to pet sit while your loved one takes a trip or babysit the kids while the parents have a date night. If your loved one has expressed an interest in your talent — gardening, playing a musical instrument, etc. — offer lessons.
• Make it an experience. Concert tickets, movie tickets and restaurant gift certificates all make great gifts and create little waste. Memberships to attractions like zoos, museums and state parks are gifts that keep giving.