Christmas wrappers matter

Examples of alternative gift wraps using brown paper bags, magazine pages, Sunday Comics, shoe boxes, used gift wrappers, and other recycled materials prepared by EcoWaste Coalition.

It’s no longer “It’s the content, not the wrapper, that counts” when giving Christmas gifts.

Gift wrapping has become another form of expression of the giver. It has evolved into an art form designed to make the receiver smile upon seeing a beautifully wrapped gift.

However, there are some things to be concerned about regarding gift wrappers.

Environmentalists caution that many gift wrapping papers, made in countries which are not strict about environmental regulations, contain carcinogenic substances.

Ethical fashion consultant Eviana Hartman in a Washington Post article said some wrapping paper and materials can’t be recycled because these “can contain lead, synthetic inks, laminated inks and dyes, plastic film, chlorine or metal-based foils, which release toxic and carcinogenic compounds into the air when burned.”

Burning these kinds of paper is prohibited under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (ESWMA). But even if these won’t be burned after use, the majority of these wrapping papers contain plastics, films, and foils, which will take decades for these to decompose only if it is in a landfill site. If not, it will take longer. If it does, still, it will only add to the ever-growing piles of trash in dumpsites.

EcoWaste Coalition, meanwhile, exhorted the general public to do their share to lessen the generation of garbage, particularly plastic waste, this festive season.

“The rash of holiday shopping, gift-giving, partying and other festive activities is expected to generate truckloads of garbage like in past celebrations,” observed Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Individual waste generation in Metro Manila estimated at 0.2650 to 1.0032 kg/person/day, for instance, will surely swell with increased consumption and disposal during the extended holidays, especially if discards are not properly sorted at source,” he said.

“We can show Mother Earth some kindness this jolly season by preventing and reducing waste such as single-use plastics,” he said.

Here are 12 simple tips to enjoy Christmas without contributing to the degradation of the environment:

1.Buy eco-friendly products with packaging that may be reused and recycled.

2.Bring eco-bags to avoid carrying plastics or non-environmentally packaging for your shopping.

3.Choose products with minimal design and avoid individually wrapped products as these waste more packaging material.

4.Buy long-lasting items.

5.Restore broken appliances and furniture, as much as possible.

6.Ask yourself if you really need the product and think of the environmental consequences of its usage.

7.Carefully unwrap the paper so it can be used next year.

8.Reuse gift boxes.

9.Store unused wrapping paper that may be used for the next celebration.

10.Be creative. Use leftover gift wrap and cut it into triangles to make a party banner.

11.Wrap gifts using old newspaper and magazines.

12.Reuse, if not avoid ribbons.

This story is produced by VERA Files under a project supported by the Internews’ Earth Journalism Network, which aims to empower journalists from developing countries to cover the environment more effectively.


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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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