The holiday season is here! And with the season comes the joy of gift-giving, decorating the home, buying a Christmas tree, and finally preparing for the New Year. But have you ever wondered where the ribbons, gift wrap, old Christmas trees, and decorations end up?
Around this time of year, the amount of trash produced in the US increases by 25%. The waste produced by ribbons is enough to wrap around the world a few times. So, what’s an eco-friendly person to do? Have a recyclable Christmas, of course.
Recycling and being eco-friendly isn’t about doing less—it’s about doing more with less. Let’s not forget that Santa is eco-friendly too. His nine flying reindeer are the greenest way to fly.
Spread the Cheer With Your Unwanted Gifts
We’ve all been there. We open up our beautifully wrapped present, anxious to see what’s hiding inside, and are surprised by what you find. But it’s not a good kind of surprise. And now, you have to put on a smile, so you don’t hurt someone’s feelings.
A great way to recycle some of those old gifts is to donate them. By doing this, you give your unwanted gift a new life. Regifting is a lot better than storing the gift in your home and forgetting about it, only to rediscover it and throw it away years later.
Places to donate old gifts:
It’s completely ok not to like your gift; someone else might enjoy it. Everyone who has had to buy a gift knows how hard it can be to shop for someone else. Even when we know someone well, it can still be challenging to pinpoint precisely what you think they’ll enjoy.
Besides donating your gift, you could always re-gift to someone you think might enjoy it. You are bound to have a friend or family member who will enjoy your unwanted present far more than you will.
Ask Them What They Want
There’s no shame in asking someone what they want as a gift. If you are concerned about it being a surprise, then you can ask for multiple suggestions.
Doing this will take a lot of the stress out of shopping around for a gift. You also don’t run the risk of getting something that this person won’t like. This is why parents have their children write a wish list to Santa.
Wrap Your Gifts Without Any Waste
Gift wrap and packaging are one of the greatest contributors to the increase in holiday waste. Every home where people are opening presents ends up with giant piles of wrap and boxes. That’s why you should consider these thrifty ways to present your gifts this Christmas.
You can find a newspaper at your local coffee shop or supermarket. You don’t have to buy the most expensive one to achieve this quaint look. The best part is that you can recycle the paper after you open the gift.
The trick with using newspapers as gift wrap is to reduce any bulging or bulkiness as much as possible. Then, tie it together with twine or a reusable bow.
Japan has been wrapping gifts with reusable fabric wrap for some time now. You can find beautiful and affordable fabric wraps easily online and present your gift in a fun and unique way.
Although plain gift wrap is typically recyclable, anything with glitter or metallic coverings is not. You can assume most eye-catching wrap isn’t recyclable because of this. Using a fabric alternative will guarantee you don’t contribute to plastic and metal pollution.
Bags with Tissue Paper
Using bags with tissue paper is one of my favorite ways to wrap a gift. Forget about having to spend the time cutting gift wrap to the right size, smoothing out all the creases, and fretting over the small details.
With a bag, you just toss the present in and then add tissue paper sparingly. Try to find a bag that can either be reused or recycled. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding the perfect bag tissue combo that is also eco-friendly.
You can also reuse the bag for other gifts. Unlike gift wrap, after the present is unwrapped, the bag is left entirely intact.
Decorating for a Recyclable Christmas
A Christmas without decorations wouldn’t be a Christmas at all. Having a recyclable Christmas doesn’t mean you can’t decorate your home with holiday cheer. It only has to do with how you decorate and what you choose to decorate with.
Use a Real Tree
You might think that since plastic trees are reusable, they should produce less waste. But this isn’t the case. Most plastic trees are thrown out, and the emissions produced from manufacturing and shipping them is much worse.
Many of the trees grown specifically for the holiday season are never cut down. This means that the industry around harvesting real Christmas trees increases the size of forests. And as long as you properly dispose of your Christmas tree, there shouldn’t be a negative impact on the environment.
Use LED lights to Save Energy and Reduce Waste
LED lights to use up to 80% less energy than traditional lighting, and they last much longer. With Christmas lights that don’t last, they usually end up in one place— the trash.
Having a recyclable Christmas means being able to reuse decorations. You should avoid buying decorations that aren’t meant to last or are quick to go out of fashion. Many of the decorations seasonally sold in dollar stores and supermarkets are typically single-use and almost always non-recyclable.