Canadians send about 540,000 tonnes of gift wrapping and gift bags to the landfill during the holiday season, according to a 2017 study done by Vancouver-based environmental group, Zero Waste Canada.
“Think about all the houses that are opening gifts on Christmas morning, all of the people giving gifts and think about all that waste,” said Jessica Correa, founder of Random Acts of Green, an advocacy organization in Peterborough. “Even the things that are recyclable are often packed up with the garbage.”
She said some types of gift wrapping are okay to put in the blue box and some aren’t.
“Anything that has that shiny foil finish or anything with glitter is considered garbage,” Correa said. “Always think about reducing first: does this need to be in a package or gift bag? Do I need to have that shiny paper?”
According to Virginia Swinson, section manager of waste diversion with the City of Peterborough, some wrapping paper is recyclable. She said the standard, traditional paper, pending no shine or glitter, can be recycled. Swinson said the natural brown paper packaging is also accepted.
Peterborough City staff have prepared this ‘Naughty or Nice’ list as a guide for other tricky seasonal items:
Correa said another way to cut down on waste and wrapping is to give an experience gift, like tickets to a show or concert. She also said you can get creative with the present presentation.
“See if you can use a piece of clothing to wrap your gift or use something you already have,” Correa said. “Newspaper is also a great alternative.”
And if you’re still not really sure how to go green, there’s an app for that. The team at Random Acts of Green has recently launched an app that rewards you for sustainable actions, like using a travel mug or walking to work. Now, for December, Correa said they developed a festive challenge coined, Jolly Green Holiday.
“There are a number of challenges, like recycling old Christmas lights. Many people don’t know you can if you take them to the depot on Pido Road in Peterborough,” she said. “There is an action for each day of the month. Another one is, ‘Don’t be a Grinch, avoid single-use wrapping.'”
So even if you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you can still go green.