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Your Complete Guide to Green Holiday Gifting

When it comes to opening gifts, does it seem like each holiday you can’t find the living room because of the piles of gift wrap, tissue paper, and gift boxes? Although your holiday will probably look different this year, the same question remains: does it go in the recycling or the trash?

Our sustainable gifting advice and shopping hacks will ensure your days are merry and your holidays green.

Whether it’s the holiday season or any other time of year, sustainability starts at the cart. When you’re searching for that perfect gift, please consider these tips:

  • Encourage minimal gift exchanges such as a secret Santa or white elephant gift experience.
  • Reduce waste by giving an e-gift card or reloading an existing gift card.
  • Get crafty and creating do-it-yourself gifts such as centerpieces, apothecary containers, etc. These can also be personalized so that the recipient is incentivized to use the gift versus tossing it.
  • Select items with packaging that is recyclable.
  • Shop with your reusable shopping bag.
  • Reuse boxes from online purchases as gift boxes.
  • Give rechargeable batteries (with the charging station) for toys that require batteries.
  • Recycle shipping boxes whether from online shopping or gift exchanges.
  • Use a reusable face mask and avoiding placing masks, wipes, and gloves in the recycling container.
  • Give an alternative gift that may benefit charities, especially those that have been impacted by the pandemic.
  • Buy a second-hand gift that can be loved again instead of something new.
  • Shop sustainably – today, more brands than ever are using recycled materials to create their products. Look for items made with ocean plastic, reused fibers, or recycled content.

Once you’ve made your list and checked it twice, it’s time to wrap that perfect gift. Please consider these sustainability tips:

  • Purchase wrapping paper made with recycled materials that will also be recyclable. Many cities and towns accept non-metallic/glitter wrapping paper. If your community does accept it, toss that paper in the recycling cart after you open your gifts.
  • Reuse tissue and wrapping paper. If you elect to use tissue and wrapping paper, reuse it. While it may seem cheap or tacky, why waste paper that can be used again? If you find that reusing the paper won’t work for gift wrap, consider using it for art projects (e.g. paper flowers, pressed paper on canvas) or holiday home decorations.
  • Wrap gifts in gift bags. These are the gifts that keep on giving. Simply place a “Green it Forward” note inside asking the recipient to keep and reuse the gift bag. Pass the bag and note along to the next recipient.
  • Give existing materials a second life as gift wrap. These can include newspapers, magazines, and bags. Pro tip: The “funny papers” or comics are terrific for children’s gifts.
  • Say no to extras such as gift tags, tissue paper, and bows. Unfortunately, these items are not recyclable.
  • Decorate packages with fresh greenery or holly, which you can later compost.
  • Use cardboard shipping boxes as gift boxes. These can also be wrapped to use as faux gifts for added decor around your home.

The most wonderful time of the year is also the perfect time to recycle where you work, live, and play. There’s no time like the present to recycle more, better.

For more holiday recycling tips, tricks, and year-round recycling resources, visit recyclingpartnership.org.