Have a Green Holiday – Ditch the Wrapping Paper!

A retail display of seasonal wrapping paper - photograph by Mark Buckawicki - CC0 license via wikimedia

BY JADYN IDE-PECH

We all love the holidays, but have we ever stopped to think how the environment feels about this festive time of year? According to Stanford University, Americans discard 25%  more trash during the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.  This increase in garbage results in about one million extra tons of waste per week!

The increased garbage comes from the wrapping paper, decorations, and pre-wrapped food that are associated with the holidays. The waste accumulates in landfills causing the increased production of greenhouse gases, specifically methane. This increased release of methane into the atmosphere deteriorates the ozone layer of the atmosphere, further accelerating climate change and the effects that accompany it.  

Holiday paper consumption also damages the trees and the ecosystem.  For every ton of wrapping paper approximately fifteen trees are cut down.  This may seem like an insignificant amount, but according to Clean Air Partnership, “ 8,000 tons of wrapping paper are used during the holidays each year.” This adds up to about one hundred and twenty thousand trees cut down every year just during the holidays simply to wrap our presents.

Although wrapping paper is an essential part of the holidays and it is one of the many things that make it exciting, it clearly creates an immense impact on the environment and is an alarming issue in our society. Families can improve this situation by striving for a more natural theme during the holidays, using decomposable decorations and reusing wrapping paper or gift bags. By using recycled paper bags, twine, pine branches and berries to wrap presents, you can construct an elegant creation that looks just as beautiful as any wrapping paper. These simple methods of limiting plastic and paper waste can preserve the environment and decrease the amount of accumulated waste in landfills; especially during the holidays.