Low Waste Holiday Gifts — Monday, December 5, 2011
How can you celebrate the holidays and reduce waste? Think ahead! Now is the time to consider ways to give gifts with little/no packaging and a lower planetary impact.
First, the wrapping: while nearly all wrapping paper (except maybe the foil stuff) can be recycled, it’s better to find ways to reduce and reuse packaging instead. Gift bags (both cloth and heavy paper) are becoming more common — just remember to collect them and store them to use again next year! If you are the type that enjoys ripping the paper off a gift, think about wrapping presents in newsprint (the comics are great for this) or some other re-purposed paper. (Be sure to recycle your reused wrapping afterward).
It’s sometime difficult to find products, especially toys, that aren’t overpackaged. For starters, keep an eye out for things that have no package — books and games come to mind. It is often true that things produced locally have less packaging than items manufactured far away and shipped greater distances. Look for items at farmers’ markets, craft sales, independent shops that feature local products. Generally, these items will have a lower environmental footprint.
Another category of low-waste gift is services. You can give a gift certificate for a haircut or a massage — local, low waste solutions.
And, if you’re the creative type, consider hand-made gifts. These are often well-received and you can minimize the packaging yourself.