Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, Americans throw away about 25% more trash, on average, compared to any other time of the year. That's about 25 million tons of trash over the Holidays above and beyond what we already throw away. Unfortunately most traditional gift-wrap is not recyclable due to the high metallic and dye content and most tissue paper is also not recyclable due to the short fibers.
During the holiday season, consider giving sustainable gifts, which are both environmentally friendly and creative. For example, consider the gift of an experience. An experience creates a memory, which lasts a lifetime and does not create more clutter in your home or create more trash.
Gifts of Experience
o Tickets to a play, concert or movie
o Gift Certificate for a Massage or other Spa Service
o Professional Lessons for Dance, Music, Singing, or the Arts
o A Professional Service such as a session with a Professional Organizer or a Feng Shui Consultant
o Gift certificate towards Travel
For smaller gifts, consider "disappearing", or consumable gifts such as coffee, baked goods or flowers. You could pair some fair trade organic coffee with some biscotti and chocolates. To save time and money I recommend choosing one theme, such as coffee, and giving that same gift to several people. One year, I gave cashmere socks made of recycled cashmere sweaters to several family members. I simply tied a red bow around each pair of socks. Some of my family members still remark "Remember the year that Heidi gave us all luxurious cashmere socks?" No one seemed to mind that their gift was not unique to them. Purchasing 10 of the same gift simplifies gift buying and often times, saves you money.
Once you select the perfect gift, consider your wrapping options. Your gifts don't need to be wrapped in several layers of tissue, boxes, paper, and bows. Consider the following wrapping options:
o Children's Art Work, Old Maps or Newspaper as Wrapping Paper
o Pinecones, Dried flowers, Buttons or Beads as Embellishments
o Make the Wrapping part of the gift such as Cookies in a Jar
As another wrapping option, consider not wrapping. In her book, Simple Living, author Sister Jose Hobday describes a Native American tradition of giving unwrapped gifts. According to Native American tradition, wrapped gifts are shrouded in secrecy, while unwrapped gifts provide a "flesh-to-flesh" connection and a sense of unity between giver and receiver.