Apparently, Christmas wrapping paper is not very recyclable.
I learned that just recently. According to Earth911, the lamination, dyes, non-paper additives that often show up, and some other factors make wrapping paper "typically non-recyclable." This might not be a big deal, except that we use millions of tons of gift wrapping material every year in the US! Suddenly the cool Frosty the Snowman paper Emily and I picked up on sale last year is much less exciting.
Christians should care about recycling. This planet is God's creation. He took pleasure in it long before humanity came along (Gen 1:12), and when we finally did come on the scene, God charged us with tending the Earth (Gen 2:15). So we can't think of the world as simply a resource at our disposal, to use as we will--that's certainly not a biblical perspective. I've written about these questions before, and I'm not going into it all again here.
Instead, let's skip straight to the next question: what can we do? What steps can Christians take to ensure that our celebrations of Christ's coming don't do further harm to the world Jesus made?
Well, surprise, surprise: you can find all sorts of creative, alternative wrapping ideas online. Some of them we're all familiar with--for instance, newspaper wrapping. This is what I usually did in college, not because I was environmentally conscientious, but because there were always free copies of The Daily Reveille available on campus, and that meant free wrapping paper. I'm sure saving money on gift-wrapping would still be prudent for a lot of us, but this is also a great way to make sure you're not just adding to the landfills.
Another obvious trick (...I never think of the obvious ones myself) is to reuse wrapping paper. Yes, that means you can't just rip it to shreds when you open your presents. But that's a pretty small price to pay for a more creation-friendly practice.
For some more wrapping options, check out Eco-Chick.
Of course there's one terrific option for those of you who really want to use wrapping paper and really want to rip it to shreds: you can find recyclable wrapping paper. Only watch for the little recycle emblem on the packaging; we can't just assume that this stuff is recyclable. Sure, eco-friendly paper is going to cost a little more. But with Christmas only a week away, we're eight days from the post-Christmas shopping season and the great wrapping paper sale. When you go to stock for next year's holiday season, search out the recyclable stuff--a little more expensive, but still a bargain.
And wrapping paper isn't the only thing we can think about! I saw an ad in the Natchez local paper just the other day highlighting all sorts of recyclable holiday waste: Christmas lights, boxes, cans from Christmas meals. Even old Christmas trees are accepted!
For tips on recycling your tree, check here.
So this holiday season, let's think before we trash. White, blue, whatever color your Christmas turns out to be, with a little planning and consideration, you can make the celebration green. That's one important way we can be faithful to Christ this Christmas.