A present adorned with the right wrap may make its recipient feel special, but gift wrapping leaves millions of tons of waste each year.

Amid the festive bags, sparkly ribbons and plastic packaging to dress gifts for loved ones, most will end up in the landfill. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, American households see waste increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and Christmas

This includes everything from food, decorations, packaging and technology. Christmas is widely known for it's many festive features, but unsustainable practices may lead to environmental consequences. 

An estimated 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced by the U.S each year, according to Earth911, a universal resource that provides tips and information about pollution prevention and recycling. Of that number, landfills receive about 2.3 million pounds. 

A common mistake many people make around the holidays is loading their recycling bins with wrapping paper, tissue, ribbons and more according to Earth 911. 

According to the county of San Diego, nonmetallic wrapping paper, cardboard boxes, greeting cards without photos among other items are recyclable. Laminated paper is not recyclable in most circumstances and paper with other paper products can make an entire load un-recyclable according to Earth 911. 

The resource adds wrapping items are not recyclable if it has has glitter on it, or  texture. Additionally, wrapping paper that is pre-recycled and unlaminated paper-based wrapping is usually recyclable.

Other recyclable features such as ribbons, bows and glitter holiday cards are not recyclable. According to Recycle Now, if paper is scrunched up into a ball and it stays, it can probably be recycled. 

The following is a list of sustainable gift wrapping alternatives to create less waste this holiday season. 

Reuse it  

  • Wrap boxes with brown paper bags or newspaper.
  • Use pillow cases, old clothing, towels or any fabric that fits your gift. 
  • Reuse and decorate cardboard boxes and other shopping supplies. 
  • Tote bags, shopping bags and plastic bags may be used for wrapping. 

Decorative touches: 

  • Use compostable twine for bows.
  • Upcycle old clothes into ribbon bows.  
  • Repurpose bubble liners into stamps to create patterns on your recyclable wrapping paper of choice. 
  • Repurpose Christmas tree trimmings, cotton buds, pine cones or fallen leaves to decorate gifts. 

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