The holidays may be gone, but those bulging bags of trash are probably still waiting to be taken off of your hands. There may be a swell of food scraps in there from a holiday feast, but a lot of that bulk is the discarded skins of surprise that recently held our presents-to-be. While standing as a time-honored tradition, wrapping presents also marks a spike in the waste that we create throughout the year. According to the Wall Street Journal, gift wrapping sales in the U.S. totaled $9.36 billion in 2010 (more than the combined GDP of Africa’s 9 poorest countries). One of the problems with traditional wrapping paper is that its dying and lamination make recycling difficult. This means that most of that paper does not end up in a plastic bin targeted for reuse, but in trash bags headed for a landfill and we produce 4 million pounds of it.
To get an idea of how much that is, a typical paper density for gift wrapping paper is 60 grams per square meter (or about 0.012 pounds per square foot). At 4 million pounds, that’s over 333 million square feet, or about 5,787 NFL football fields worth of wrapping. One option is to try and find wrapping paper made with recycled content. A better option is to wrap with paper that is already lying around like newspaper.