Ask Pablo: Holiday Wrapping Paper

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Dear Pablo: As I begin the annual ritual of wrapping Christmas presents I can't help but contemplate the massive amount of paper that is wasted each year. What is the impact of all the wasted holiday wrapping paper?

How Can I Minimize My Wrapping Waste?
Gift bags are less likely to get destroyed in the gifting process and are very likely to be reused. You can also make or purchase cloth gift bags and encourage the recipient to regift them next year. In this way you are introducing a steady stream of reusable wrapping alternatives and helping to phase out the single-use wrapping paper one gift at a time. In the very least you can consider recycled wrapping paper.

Other Holiday Waste
While it is one of the most visible components of holiday waste, wrapping paper is not the worst. For every pound of wrapping paper that we throw away there are several pounds of cardboard packaging, blister packs, twist ties that shackled Elmo to his box, ribbons and bows. Behind the scenes there is even more waste. The gift that you purchased at the store was probably delivered in a master carton on a pallet surrounded by plastic wrap. Pre-consumer waste is really the hidden part of the iceberg of holiday waste and can only be reduced by reducing consumption or shopping at stores that are actively working to reduce waste. Believe it or not Walmart has, and continues to, reduce packaging waste through its highly ambitious and effective sustainability initiative. This year, as you search for last-minute gifts, consider gifts that keep on giving, such as an investment in Kiva or gifts that support a local services-based economy such as a 1-hour massage.

Pablo Päster is a weekly columnist for TreeHugger.com and Principal Environmental Consultant at Hara Software. Send your questions to Pablo(at)TreeHugger.com or submit the via this form and connect to his RSS feed.
More TreeHugger Articles On Wrapping Paper:
10 Gorgeous Green Alternatives to Holiday Wrapping Paper (Slideshow)
Lush Wrapping is Reusable, Japanese-Style
10 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Wrapping Paper