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Gift Wrapping Is Effective Future Trash

You never know if your loved ones are going to like what you bought ’em for the holidays. But one thing you can count on? A huge pile of paper trash, the detritus from unwrapping presents. 

Americans spend more than $8 billion dollars a year on wrapping paper, according to a recent report by Sundale Research. And we toss millions of pounds of that precious paper in the garbage.

Truth is, it’s not that easy to recycle. Metallic or shiny wrapping papers can’t be recycled. Neither can bows or ribbons. And tissue paper doesn’t have long enough fibers for recycling. One municipal recycler suggests composting tissue instead

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Though we’re spending a lot of money on wrapping paper and ribbons today, Grand View Research forecasts we’ll be buying more decorative boxes, pouches and bags in the future—a more sustainable choice, because those items can be used year after year. Wrapping gifts in fabric—a Japanese tradition—is also growing in popularity. 

And if you’re wondering whether you should even bother wrapping next year’s presents, a 1992 study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that people were happier with their gifts when they got to unwrap them. Here’s an idea: instead of spending money on wrapping paper, maybe use money as wrapping paper. That should just about put a bow on it.

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—Christopher Intagliata 

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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