It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And it’s the most wasteful.
While we’re gearing up to give gifts and get festive, we gotta keep in mind that our actions regarding celebrating have an impact on the environment. Yes, I know: how Scrooge. The reality is the gift of—I don’t know.—a more stable planet seems quite wonderful given our upcoming president’s shocking views on climate change. Shit is going to get real and we need to take precautions yesterday.
An easy way to do this: stop using wrapping paper. It’s just pretty garbage that evolved from Asian reusable wrapping to wasted paper courtesy of Hallmark in the 1910s. The reality with wrapping paper is that we use enough of it to “go round the equator nine times.” That’s a lot of fucking wasted paper! Moreover, “half the paper America consumes each year is used to wrap and decorate gifts.” Imagine if all that paper wasn’t used. Imagine all the environment that would still be here! Like all sorts of packaging and needlessly purchased holiday goodies, wrapping paper is the byproduct of luxurious developed world bullshit—and its gotta stop.
Let’s dig in deeper into why curbing wasted wrapping is such a good thing. Stanford University explains.
If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
Well. That’s a fuck ton of shit that would be not-wasted.
Now, yes, I know you are concerned about not being holiday spirited enough when giving gifts but there are non-wasteful alternatives. A lot of them are so practical too and don’t involve spending anything: this is a double win. Let’s break down a few wrapping alternatives, shall we?
• A Tote Bag: Obviously a gift within a gift is a good idea and giving a tote as a means to wrap something is a clever, easy way to bypass wrapping. Be aware though: tote bags are the new plastic bags. Don’t frivolously buy one as wrapping “just because.” That’s arguably worse than going with paper.
• Literally A Blanket: I do this all the time by grabbing a blanket around the house and wrapping a gift to give to someone who is coming over. Moreover, if the gift is big enough, you can literally hide it under a blanket and call it a day. If the blanket is nice (or not nice?) enough, you can use it in lieu of a tote bag or…
• Furoshiki: This is a Japanese cloth wrapping technique that is intended to transport something, i.e. it is used and reused. It’s also stylish and cute and not weird at all to take the wrapping back. This is like the wrapping paper equivalent of a cloth napkin. Why use wasteful paper when you can use cloth?
• Aluminum Foil: I love this trick. You don’t need tape, the foil can be recycled or reused, and it looks cool even though it’s a totally lazy option.
• Hide It Behind Your Back: I do this a lot. Just hide the fucking gift from the person and do a reveal. We’re all adults.
• Tell Someone To Close Their Eyes: Speaking of! Just have them damn close their eyes. This works on everyone and requires nothing but a gift and hands and closed eyes.
• Recycled Paper: If you must use paper (UGH.), make sure to go 100% recyclable. This can be paper that has already been used (Newspaper!) or a paper that is made via recycling (Recycled paper!). Either way, this is better than [insert normal store wrapping paper].
• Give Someone Money: Don’t give someone a gift. By pass the bulk of something entirely! Just give them money! This saves all around.
• Just Don’t Give A Gift: Better yet, don’t gift at all. Unless someone needs something, why give them something extra that is only going to add to our world’s junk problem? Put an end to consuming by making an active choice to literally not buy into it.
Tis the season to be wasteful! So maybe try to go against the norm this year, OK? I’m certainly going to try this myself—and that means ridding myself of the fuss of wrapping paper.