Remember Wrapping paper is NOT recyclable.
Or at least in my area you may want to check your recycler to find out.
Each year I receive an email from my waste hauler that reads “Wrapping paper is not recyclable.” This Christmas I decided to make an effort and keep this e-mail in mind as I went to wrap my gifts. My goal was to find a way to wrap my gifts responsibility — for both the environment AND my pocketbook.
I considered using fabric to wrap gifts, and this looked like a very good option. Fabric is recyclable and, in my area, is readily available. I live in the part of the country that has a lot of office furniture manufactures, so buying unused fabric is inexpensive (as low as $5 for 19 yards). This seemed very reasonable, except I did not have fabric cutting scissors. I plan to keep this in mind for next year though… an investment in several pairs of quality scissors would allow me to use a more sustainable wrapping that could be reused year after year. This year, though, making a special trip out to buy more scissors just wasn’t in the cards
I thought about wrapping paper made from soy ink and recycled paper. This sort of paper can be costly: the amount of money I would spend for the amount of paper I would receive did not fit in my budget.
I looked at using used newspaper. I do not receive my news via newspaper (watch for another post on sustainable reading), so I would have to ask someone who receives a newspaper for their recycling. The cost would be free and it would be recycling a used product so that would two major benefits to newspaper as wrapping, but there was one big downside: newspaper does not have a “Christmas” look to the wrapped gifts. For any other holiday, newspaper (especially comics) would work, but not on Christmas.
The third option was to use craft/packaging paper. This turned out to be the best option for our family. This paper acted just like normal wrapping paper so it was easy to cut, wrap, and tape. The look of the gifts at first were not very Christmas-like because the paper was just plain brown. The solution was that my kids cut out white paper snowflakes and we tied Christmas color string/yarn around the packages. At first I was a little concerned about the look, but it turned out great. The kids were heavily involved to make the packaging Christmassy, and they loved every minute of it. They were also able to wrap their own gifts without much help. If you don’t like brown, they do have other colors of crafting paper available. (see above picture).
The environmental benefits:
Crafting/packaging paper is made from 100% recycling material with 50% being post-consumer. The paper is 100% recyclable. There are no inks of presses that go into making this paper. The paper is also 100% compostable.
For a roll of regular wrapping paper, you pay between 3-5 dollars for about 60 square feet. If you fill your waste container with this packaging that will be another cost to just haul away to the landfill.
Craft paper cost between 6-8 dollars for a roll of at least 120 square feet. The waste cost can be zero if you decide to compost the paper.
Using craft paper cost is much less, it is better for the environment, and your family can be more engaged with wrapping gifts. Finally, we can feel good that we support an industry that uses recyclable material.