The tree is lit, the food is cooking, and the music is both loved and hated. Your house probably feels like walking into a Christmas movie with Santa waiting right around the corner, ready to pop out and cover you with presents. On those presents is a big, glaring problem: wrapping paper and ribbon.
Wrapping paper today looks vastly different from wrapping paper only 30 years ago. It’s usually covered in glitter or shiny reindeer or little dancing Santas with hats you can actually feel the fuzz on. They’re fun and eye-catching, but they come with a price.
All of these additives to normal wrapping paper mean it’s no longer recyclable. Ribbon is made from fabrics which, while reusable, are not recyclable in your curbside bin.
It seems silly since ‘paper’ is in the name, but most of today’s wrapping paper has very little paper in it at all. It’s a composite made of different materials including plastics. The flashier it looks, the more likely it is to be made up of nonrecyclable materials. Those shiny dinosaurs riding Rudolf are hilarious and fun, but they create a waste problem.
So, how can you tell the difference in what is actually paper and what is a composite?
You squish it.
Normal, recyclable wrapping paper will easily form into a ball and stay that way. Composite wrapping paper resists being squished and won’t hold its shape. Composites also tend to have glitter or metallics on their design. It’s easy to lean towards those designs since they tend to be more festive, but they will only increase your holiday waste heading to the landfill.
If you can’t find wrapping paper made of actual paper, think about using reusable cloth bags, newspaper, plain brown paper, or old maps or books instead and leaving the ribbons out completely. You can draw your own design or create a collage on the present with different cut outs. A personalized wrapping is a great talking point while you’re opening gifts. Plus, you’ll look like you went the extra mile for each person.
If ribbon is a staple in your gift wrapping, try and reuse it in an art project. You can also repurpose them into hair ties and bows. They can pull double duty and provide an extra gift for those who like to embellish their look.
If you’re unsure if your wrapping paper is actual paper or not, it’s best to toss it instead of putting in your curbside recycling bin.
Regardless, we’re sure your gifts will be beautiful and full of love!