You’ve probably received at most one holiday gift, whether it was a horrible sweater, a book that you haven’t read yet, or a small knickknack. Although you might consider donating or regifting these items, chances are that you will end up tossing them.
According to a report by a, Americans spent $15.2 billion on holiday gifts they didn’t want in 2019. 4% of those gifts ended up in the garbage. Survey by Pureprofile and finder.com. The National Retail Federation predicts that even more presents will end up in a landfill next year. predictsRecord-breaking holiday shopping season: Sales could rise 8.5 to 10% over last year, potentially raking in $859 billion. This trend is bad for our bank balances, but it is also bad news for the environment.
We see a lot of waste during the holidays, says Jeremy Walters (community relations manager for Republic Services) According to the The, household waste increases by approximately 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years. This equates roughly to around 1,000 extra pounds of trash. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is safe for us to assume that gift waste makes up a significant portion of that rubbish.
He says that people often give gifts, but they aren’t used, and that people don’t consider the best option, which is to donate the items. While they might not use them, it is always the best thing to do for the environment.
Unwanted Presents’ Environmental Impact
Every purchase has an impact on the surrounding ecosystems. To make products, you need energy, natural resources, including water and chemicals, as well as raw materials like trees or fossil fuels. Darby Hoover is senior resource specialist at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
She says that if something isn’t used, it can lead to the loss of all the resources associated with it. Don’t throw away unwanted goods. Instead, regift, reuse, or donate what you can. Give away gifts using local resources Buy-nothing GroupsYou can also post items to social media, and someone can claim them free of charge.
Hoover says it is best to keep things in their original form as long as possible, and out of landfills.
Organic materials, such as paper or food, can be released into the environment once they have been dumped in a dump. Methane is a greenhouse gas They will eventually decompose. PlasticsIt can take years for chemicals to be biodegraded and can cause dangerous side effects. Textile wasteAlso, it emits harmful greenhouse gasses and can leach toxic chemicals into the soil or groundwater.
Can you recycle gift wrap?
Walters states that it is not possible to recycle many common gifts using traditional methods. Take the packaging. Cardboard shipping boxes and product packaging are recyclable, as opposed to plastic packaging.
He explains that you buy a toy for kids in a cardboard box. However, the plastic shell is not recyclable. Instead, use plastic bottles, jugs or tubs with the No. Recycling companies accept only 1 or 2 types of plastics.
Wrapping paper isn’t always recyclable. This is especially true if it’s shiny or glittery, laminated, or has a foil print. Walters says printed matte wrapping paper is acceptable. Also, bows, ribbons, and gift bags are not possible. These materials can become entangled in recycling equipment, which can pose a danger to workers.
You can reuse or recycle gift wrap to reduce waste. Walters states that his family has someone who is responsible for collecting and saving bows during gift exchanges. I’m pretty sure some of those bows have been around for at least 15 years. Hoover believes that wrapping paper can be creative and sustainable by using magazines, newspapers or catalogs.
ReturnsCome With a Heavy Carbon Footprint
Although it may seem like a sensible way to handle holiday leftovers, returning items can have serious environmental consequences. According to a study, shipping generates approximately 16 million metric tons per year in carbon dioxide. E-commerce returns also produce 14% more waste than those made in-store. ResearchOporto and Environmental Capital Group are reverse-logistics companies. Furthermore, 5.8 Billion pounds of inventory returned each year ends up in a landfill.
You might think, “I am returning something to this retailer that was not used.” But, Meagan Knowlton, Oportos director, sustainability, says, “So, I should just get it resold.” There are many reasons why products don’t get resold or donated.
She explains that processing returns can be both time-consuming as well as labor-intensive. Employees must open the boxes of returned goods, inspect the condition of the products, and decide if they can be restocked. Many products, especially seasonal and damaged items, end-up being sold in bulk to liquidators, or thrown out due to the large amount of processing required. Certain product types, such as those used in home health, are not allowed to be resold because of regulatory reasons.
It is not easy for consumers to know what happens to returned items. Knowlton suggests that you send the items back as soon as possible. You can also do the process in-store. This increases their chances of being resold. You can reduce gas emissions by grouping your errands to both the store and the post office. You can also return multiple items at once with consolidated return programs such as Amazon drop off locations.
Rethinking gifts can reduce waste
To reduce the chance of unwelcome, garbage-bound presents, you need to evaluate how you exchange them. You can make an agreement with friends and family not to gift, as an example. You can also donate to the recipient’s favorite charity or gift experiences like dinners, concerts, or online classes.
Walters says that experiences have value because it’s a memory you guys will keep.
Knowlton suggests that you only exchange gifts if you are certain the receiver will use it. Also, make sure to include a gift receipt. Don’t throw away anything you don’t love. Keep it in use by donating or regifting.
This is a great way to reduce our environmental impact. It all contributes to the goal of leaving the planet better for future generations. It’s safe and full of resources for their children, Knowlton states.