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Spread Joy, Not Trash: Greener Holiday Wrapping Options

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By guest blogger Anna Hackman. Anna is a sustainable consultant, helping businesses to green their profits, and holds a LEED (Leadership in Environmental Design) AP certification. She is also the editor of Green Talk, an eclectic green living website with topics including green living, green building, the 3Rs, green business, and organic gardening. She has visited the Rodale Farm and thinks it is a piece of heaven.

I love the holiday season with its festive spirit. We shop for holiday gifts for our loved ones, search for the perfect Christmas tree to adorn our homes, and ring in the New Year with hope for a better year to come. What could be more fun? Unfortunately, it is one of the least kindest seasons of the year to Mother Earth.

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Photo by permission of Kasia

In fact, Americans throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Just think of all the trash that is accumulated from the holiday gifts we give: Wrapping paper, tissue paper, ribbons, greeting cards, gift tags, and cardboard boxes. So how can we change the joy of giving to include Mother Earth? Let's first start with wrapping paper, because this is where all the trash begins.

The Clean Air Council reports that we throw out 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags during the holidays. That is a staggering amount of trash. Some paper cannot be recycled because it is laminated and dyed, has glitter or tape on it, or can be very thin and thus not a candidate for reuse. Can we add the festive touches without trashing the Earth? Absolutely:

* For the Minimalistic look, consider using just a white cardboard box with a colorful ribbon. It is clean and neat and very modern. For an extra touch, consider putting a sprig of lavender or rosemary in the middle of the bow.

* Use the funny pages as wrapping paper. It shows you have a sense of humor!

* Have any leftover yards of a fabric? Ditch the wrapping paper and consider making your own gift bags.

* Not into sewing? Consider purchasing ready-made holiday gift bags from Bobo Wrap or Fabricwrapper.

* If you really want to look like everyone else, consider buying post-consumer recycled or tree-free holiday wrapping paper. For some ideas where you can buy wrapping paper, check out Seltzer Goods, Ecosource Papers, or Bloomin.

* Consider using old maps or sheet music to give your holiday gifts a whimsical look.

* Get your children involved, and decorate plain brown paper wrapped boxes. Grandma and Grandpa would appreciate such a work of art. Or use your kids' artwork to wrap holiday gifts! Just think, now you have a use for the zillions of artwork pieces that come home every week!

* Make your own wrapping paper out of butcher paper. See here.

* Use scarves and dishtowels as wrapping paper. Everyone can re-use those items.

* Use vintage handkerchiefs, napkins, dishtowels, and wash cloths in lieu of wrapping paper. Your local thrift shop is full of those items.

* Use your kids' artwork to wrap holiday gifts! Just think, now you have a use for the zillions of artwork pieces that come home every week!

Whew! That was a laundry list of greener options to decorate your holiday gifts. What creative ideas do you have to slim that oversize 22 trash footprint to a comfortable size 8?

By the way, looking for some greener gift ideas? Be sure to check out Nickel Pincher: Holiday Gifts From Summer Gardens or Rodale.com: 18 Creative, Green Gift Ideas--No Trip to the Mall Required on Rodale.com.

Related Links:
How to Make Hot Italian Sausage - Maria's Farm Country Kitchen
This or That: Christmas Trees- Real or Fake? - Rodale.com
Green Talk

For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.

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