It might surprise you to know that many types of wrapping paper cannot be recycled. The very glitters, dyes, and metallic finishes that make wrapping paper so fun and festive also cause serious problems for recycling facilities.
So much so that they often end up gathering up all the wrapping paper and sending it off with the general waste. This means you could be contributing to more waste with your wrapping paper without even knowing it.
Read on to learn what kinds of wrapping paper can be recycled and how to make more eco-friendly choices for gift decorating.
Recycling Wrapping Paper
In order to be recycled, wrapping paper needs to be plain, unlaminated paper. Colors, glitters, metallic elements, and other materials that are used to make wrapping paper pretty also make it impossible to recycle. It also can’t be too thin as it is nearly impossible to remove usable fibers from very thin wrapping paper.
The easiest way to tell if a particular wrapping paper can be recycled is to scrunch it into a ball. If it stays that way, you can recycle it. If it springs open again, toss it in the trash instead.
When you’re ready to recycle, you also have to remove tape, bows, ribbons and anything else stuck to the paper. These materials, particularly tape, are too difficult for recycling centers to sort.
In other words, recyclable wrapping paper is a very small percentage of the wrapping paper available and if it isn’t recycled correctly, it ends up in the landfill anyway.
Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping
So are there ways to make your gifts pretty that are good for the planet? Absolutely!
Instead of wrapping your gifts in sparkly, colorful paper, use simple brown paper instead. You can add your own decorations such as bows and ribbons or even more sustainable decor options like leaves or pinecones.
You can also draw on it with markers to create unique wrapping paper customized to the recipient.
Reuse Wrapping Paper And No Waste Option
If you do want to use the flashy stuff from the store, reuse it as many times as you can. Save the pieces used to wrap larger gifts as you can often use it to wrap a smaller gift and no one will be the wiser.
To go no waste, avoid paper altogether. Wrap your gifts in colorful fabrics using the ancient Japanese art of Furoshiki, Origami’s fabric cousin. At your local fabric store, you can buy remnants of fabrics. These are the pieces of fabric at the end of the bolt that usually aren’t big enough for a single project, but they are perfect for wrapping gifts.
Slow Living for the Holidays
Conscious living doesn’t have to be difficult. We do have to slow down and think about the common things we use that can be replaced with more sustainable options. But simple choices like using more eco-friendly and plastic-free products and materials can make a huge difference and reduce the amount of waste we produce.
Looking for ethical, sustainable gifts? Don’t hesitate to shop around!