I absolutely love Christmas morning. The tearing and flinging of paper and bows, the shrieks of excitement, the hugging of baby dolls and the trying on of new clothes, I love watching my kids enjoy the morning. And it's all paper, easily recycled or composted, right? Well...there is a way to make that Christmas wish come true, but it takes some advance planning.
Paper is easily recycled, but only if it meets certain criteria. I've noticed this year that brown Kraft paper is popular in the Christmas wrap section, often with black ink, and that would indeed be 100% recyclable and in most cases backyard compostable (yay!). But most families, probably mine included, wouldn't be thrilled with the look of all brown and black gifts under the tree. The allure of the Frozen paper, with its pink glitter and frosted metallic accents, is strong!
Generally, these things will knock your Christmas wrapping out of recycling consideration: glitter, metallic accents, textured finishes, and laminated, shiny coatings. And all of those bows and ribbons are a nightmare at the recycling center! If you mix recyclable and nonrecyclable papers in your bin, or mix in some bows and ribbons, the whole load will be rejected and sent to the landfill!
Here are some tips to get your Christmas load accepted at the recycling center:
1. Choose Kraft paper or uncoated paper gift wrap.
2. Don't use paper with glitter, metallic, or textured finishes.
3. Carefully separate out the tape, bows, ribbons, and gift tags from the paper. (This is a great activity to make your kids do when they start whining, "When is dinner going to be ready???") The tape, ribbons, bows, and tags need to go in the trash.
4. To make the Kraft paper more colorful, wrap the gifts and then let the kids decorate them with Christmas stamps and vegetable-based ink (in a small, contained area with all of the kids wearing shirts they don't like anyway!)
5. To reduce your Christmas morning trash, don't use gift tags. Instead just write To and From directly on the paper with colored markers.
6. Instead of bows and ribbons, which I admit look so beautiful on the packages, invest in some reusable package decorations like fake holly, pine cones, and red flowers. I am the least crafty person alive and believe me, if I can make presents look good doing this, you can too! In fact, I am 100% sure your gifts will look better than mine!
* Be sure you set these aside during the unwrapping madness so that you can use them again next year. (I store mine in with the tree decorations so we can easily find them).
7. Do The Scrunch Test: Basically, squeeze the gift wrap into a ball in your fist and if, when you let go, it retains the shape of a ball, it is probably recyclable.
Wishing all of you a fun, stress-free, worry-free, magical, and recyclable holiday season!
p.s. All of these ideas also apply to your Christmas cards and birthday gift wrap!