It’s the last week before Christmas – one of many holidays celebrated by people on Earth this time of year. There’s also Hanukkah, Kwanza, and 11 other multicultural celebrations in the month of December alone. With these holidays, many traditions are observed and practiced between family, friends and communities. Today, I’d like to focus on a few parts of a well-known tradition of gift-giving, and wrapping said gifts.
Who doesn’t love to open a gift? And, doesn’t it add that much more giddiness when the gift is disguised by wrapping, a box, or a bag? Unless you’re a toddler, you’re probably going to find much more joy in the gift under all the disguise.
But, what about all that wrapping paper and ribbon – is it necessary to exhibit what our gift is about? Does the type or color or design of paper really add to the experience for the person we’re gifting? Maybe…but I lean towards no.
Could we challenge ourselves to find alternative, reusable wrapping and remove yet another single-use material from our lives? Can we make small changes that stack up to big change for our Planet, our environment, our Ocean? YES and YES.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste can increase by as much as 25%. Food scraps, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons all add up to 1 million tons per week to a landfill (EPA). Many of you are aware of what garbage looks like before, during, and after it goes to the landfill. Think overstuffed bins ready for curbside pickup with a wind gust blowing litter away and eventually into a storm drain which leads to the ocean.
About 38,000 miles of ribbon is used each year, and likely thrown out after a single-use. If this was saved, it would be enough ribbon to tie a bow around the Earth (CalRecycle)!
The amount of waste we can avoid by making small changes is amazing to think about and act on. Below is a smorgasbord of ideas – pick one, pick many – you can try this holiday season, then work on making the idea a habit year-round. Isn’t generating less waste the least we can give back to the Planet this season and every season?
- Look for alternative types of “wrapping” around your house – newspaper, magazines, brown paper bags, saved packaging from mail-order products, reusable bags, and baskets are all great ways to give a gift with an extra use on the side.
- If you buy wrapping paper, please seek responsibly made material, such as paper from a sustainably managed forest, 100% recycled paper, or thicker/heavier gift wrap that is molded easily to be flattened and used again in the future. Cloth wrapping paper is also a great alternative! Don’t forget to recycle unwanted/unusable paper afterwards.
- Invest in and collect gift bags and responsibly made, durable gift wrap ribbon. Then, make sure your family, friends, and guests know they can leave it with you if they don’t choose to save and use again for themselves.
- Avoid using ribbon all together – get creative with a simple sprig of evergreen or berries, or snatch up a pinecone to use in your design.
- As always, use your reusable shopping bags when you’re out and about looking for those special gifts. Many stores give you a small discount for providing your own bag, and depending where you live, this may already be a mandatory practice. Every time you refuse a single-use plastic bag at the store, you’re contributing one less that could eventually end up HERE.
Be kind to your wallets by reusing.
Be kind to each other by taking action.
Be kind to our Oceans on Planet Earth by changing your habits.
Written by Sarah Burgess. Sarah fervently supports many ideas to conserve our Planet and take care of the Oceans – the best way to do this is by adventuring. Read more at BurgessAdventures