Each year, Americans generate an extra 25 million tons of garbage during the holiday season. One of the biggest culprits? Christmas. With all the wrapping paper, cards, ribbon, and bags, there’s definitely room to improve our environmental footprint during the holidays. Here are 11 ways to have a green Christmas:
- Recycle your wrapping paper
After the presents have been torn open, place all wrapping paper scraps into blue bags to be recycled. If you’d like to take an even more sustainable approach, buy giftwrap that is made of recycled paper (like brown craft papers).
- Reuse gift bags
Not only do gift bags make wrapping incredibly simple, but they can also be reused again and again. After the kids have opened all their presents, save all gift bags for next Christmas. Once they’ve been worn to the end of their lifespan, place all gift bags in your blue bags to be recycled.
- Break down boxes and place them in your blue bag or in your toter
It’s common to have a mountain of boxes after Christmas morning. Please note that all boxes should be broken down and placed in your blue bags (or inside your toter if they are too big for the bags) to be recycled. Please do not leave boxes directly on the curb. Delaware County residents can drop off larger boxes at East Central Recycling (701 E. Centennial Avenue) to be recycled for free.
- Use a natural twine instead of ribbon
Shiny, plastic ribbons are not recyclable. To dress up your gifts, try a natural twine instead. These natural materials can be composted or reused.
- Use decorative gift boxes that can be reused
Decorative gift boxes can be found at nearly every store. Printed with festive designs, these boxes look great on their own—no additional wrapping paper needed! Plus, these boxes can be saved and reused for many Christmases to come.
- Wrap gifts in fabric or scarves
One fun way to reduce the amount of wrapping paper you use is to wrap gifts in a scarf or decorative piece of fabric. The scarf or fabric is a bonus gift for the recipient, and the omitted waste is a bonus for the environment!
- Save and reuse tissue paper
Reuse tissue paper as many times as possible before throwing it out. Once it’s reached the end of its life, tissue paper can be added to your blue bag or compost.
- Use glass jars as a creative giftwrap
What’s even more eco-friendly than bags and boxes? Glass jars! Jars are a fun way to wrap small gifts or gift cards. Just hide the item inside in a layer of reused tissue paper, and you’re good to go. You can even reuse scrap wrapping paper to create a nametag for the lid. Not only can the person receiving this gift keep the jar for their own use, but glass can be infinitely recycled when they’re done using it.
- Shop locally and/or secondhand
The best way to reduce emissions and to cut down on the amount of packaging waste is to shop locally and to buy things secondhand. Shopping locally is a great way to support small businesses and community business owners during the holidays, and buying things secondhand gives items new life before being tossed out for good.
- Reuse boxes or containers
Throughout the year, collect boxes or containers of all shapes and sizes to be used for wrapping gifts. These containers can continue to be reused to extend their lifespan until they’re ready to be recycled (if applicable).
- Recycle your old Christmas lights
Christmas lights cannot be placed in blue bags, but they can still be recycled. Muncie Sanitary District will be collecting old strings of burnt out Christmas lights for recycling. If you’d like to participate in the collection, drop off your lights in the designated toters at City Hall.