With many of us spending extra time at home this winter, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is excited to share some of the ways we have been keeping busy and getting ready for the holidays. These creative decoration and gift wrapping ideas will help you reduce waste and bring holiday cheer into your home.
Make festive decorations out of reusable or natural materials
Instead of going to the store to buy plastic holiday decorations, consider more natural options that can decompose at the end of the holiday season. You might be able to find pinecones or other bits of nature in your own backyard that you can use to decorate your home. Fallen pine tree branches can be used to create wreaths or greenery to hang on banisters, doors, or porches. If you are feeling really creative, you could even recreate a winter wonderland scene! Food items, such as stringing popcorn, dried oranges, or cinnamon potpourri, can also be fun decorations, and as long as you keep it out of reach from children and pets, you can reuse these food-based decorations for a few years. Finally, you can find items around your home that you might otherwise throw away and turn them into something new you can enjoy year after year. For example, glass jars can easily turn into snow globes with an ornament or toy you want to capture in a winter wonderland.
Skip the wrapping paper, and opt for natural or recyclable/reusable wrapping materials
Extra pieces of cloth or other material can be a fun, decorative wrapping option, especially if you are mixing and matching different patterns. If you are giving multiple small gifts, consider including one you can ‘wrap’ the others in, such as a fun bag, scarf, or sweater. You can also use paper you may already have at home, such as newspaper, calendars, old maps, posters, paper grocery bags, or any type of paper you may be recycling that is the appropriate size. These options also give you the opportunity to draw your own holiday decorations and create a more personalized gift. Newspaper can also be a good solution to pad any fragile gift and avoid bubble wrap or other plastic packing options. Finally, if you are planning to use gift bags, you can reuse bags you have received previously, and encourage the recipient to do the same!
Many types of wrapping paper are not recyclable or compostable because non-paper materials are added for decoration and durability. Our creative gift giving and wrapping solutions can help you avoid the difficulty of having to figure out if your wrapping paper is recyclable or not, and will even save you some time and money by not having to go out and buy wrapping paper at all! Just remember, tape is not recyclable, so try to use as little as possible and remove it before recycling the wrapping materials.
Give gifts that don’t need to be wrapped
Another great way to reduce waste over the holidays is to gift experiences, rather than wrapped up items. Many of these options can be sent electronically, like gift cards to a favorite take-out restaurant or memberships for outdoor activities, such as an annual pass for national or state parks. You may also consider donating to an organization in place of a physical gift, which avoids the difficulty of and trash created by wrapping a gift altogether! If you already have the perfect gift to send in mind, consider skipping a card to reduce waste, or sending an e-card instead.
However you are celebrating the holidays this year, we hope you do so safely. We recognize not all of these solutions are applicable to everyone at this time, and we hope you may consider your own ways of incorporating waste reduction into your holiday traditions.