The holidays can bring a lot of excess waste with them, waste that we think little of while caught up in the season’s good cheer. There are small things we can do, however, in an effort to go about our merriment in a more sustainable way. On the subject of gift-giving, it’s possible to spread a double-dose of goodwill by making people happy while keeping the environment in mind. For instance, if you’re shipping a lot of presents, try to send them off early, before you need to rely on last-minute air delivery, which burns bookoo fossil fuels and releases more CO2 than other modes of transportation. You could also consider buying your out-of-town friends and family a gift that doesn’t need to be sent at all, such as event tickets held at will-call. And to cut down on distance, you could always order them a gift from one of their favorite local stores.
On average, an additional five million tons of waste is generated in the U.S. every holiday, with four of those million being attributed to wrapping paper. Some people try and put their discarded wrap to better use by employing its services as fireplace kindling, but there are much more sustainable ways we can reuse it. Old wrapping paper can be saved to wrap future gifts, make greeting cards, or use as scrap paper for random projects. Burning wrapping paper can also be very unhealthy, so don’t consider it a viable option. Fireplaces produce a lot of particulate air pollution and toxic carbon monoxide, and the inks found in standard gift papers can contain heavy metals, like lead and cadmium, that are unhealthy to put in the air.
Are you a last-minute gift wrapper? Or are all your gifts already snug and tight in colorful paper, just like they’ve been since the first of November?