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6 Ways to Re-Use Wrapping Paper
If You Can't Reduce, Re-Use
Wrapping paper is beautiful, festive, and fun... but it's a waste, too. Some organizations, like Kanu Hawaii, explicitly ask people to stop using wrapping paper altogether to lessen the impact of holidays and birthdays on our suffering environment. But, even if you decide not to use wrapping paper, your friends and family will. That means chances are, you'll have little pieces of colorful paper lying around at some point during the holidays or when a birthday rolls around.
Although wrapping paper is pretty and shiny, you can re-use it for some down and dirty jobs. While these re-use options may not provide much of an impact, they can get you (and hopefully others) in the habit of thinking about the environment and your impact on it.
Try consciously re-using it for some of these purposes, and see how you feel about other disposable and wasteful products in your life. Also, keep an eye on your wallet and see if it has an impact!
- Packing Paper: Crunch up the used wrapping paper and pack it around a fragile item. Maybe your ornaments or other décor need to be put away gently. Or, spruce up that bland brown box you use to send a late Christmas present, or flatten it out and layer it white-side-up between picture frames. Maybe you're planning to move in April -- stick it in a bag and put it in the basement with the other things you don't use often. Label the bag "packing paper," and you'll be happy to have it around when you pack up your belongs. You could use it to protect your glass menorah decorations or the wedding cake topper you haven't decided how to use. Don't waste your money on packing peanuts when you can lower your carbon footprint instead! It's less messy, readily available, and it won't stick to you when you wear winter wool.
- Cat Toy: Just crumple it up and throw it in front of Kitty and you'll see what I mean. Don't use the papers with glitter on them for this. Bonus if it has some curling ribbon still attached. Just be careful he or she doesn't eat any of the harmful materials!
- Outdoor Furniture or Car Window Cleaner: You'll have to use the white side of the paper and be careful about which paper you choose for this, but sturdy paper is actually a great way to get outdoor grit off of slick surfaces, especially when paired with Windex. Crumple up a piece, white or brown side out, and scratch away at spots on hard surfaces. It saves paper towels and can be more effective.
- Doodle Paper: Give the little ones some crayons or markers and let them have at it! Challenge them to draw their favorite present, or write a thank you letter to Grandpa.
- Festive Notepad: Do you ever feel bad about not writing on both sides of notepad paper? Well, you can make a guilt-free notepad for your after-holiday to-do lists by trimming up a few pieces of wrapping paper and stapling them together. Then, you are only allowed to write on one side, and the other side is festive! It's perfect for that disposable (or lose-able) grocery list.
- Food Trash Bag: After the holidays, you are destined to have some stinky food that may sit in your trash can for longer than it should. Or, maybe you just have a few pieces of food trash to toss. Wrap up discarded food in crumpled wrapping paper before you toss it - the paper is thick and will keep the stench in!
If you still have used wrapping paper somewhere, use it again with these ideas! They are super easy and don't take a lot of creativity or artistic prowess. What do you do to try to lessen your impact on the environment? Share your ideas in the comments!
How is paper recycled?
Aside from the colors and designs on wrapping paper, you have probably noticed that the texture and thickness are different from regular paper as well. It's made the same way as regular paper, by processing wood chips into pulp, then filtering it. After that, it's screened and steamed, which means all of the moisture is taken out. Once it's dry and rolled tightly into a roll, designs are printed onto the paper.
Once your used paper ends up at a recycling plant, it is washed with soap and all of the dyes are removed. While recycling paper can help the environment, this process still involves a lot chemicals and energy.
The paper is then pulp and blended with other pieces to create a mixture called "slurry." The slurry is then put through a process similar to the original paper-making process. However, the end product cannot be the same because the consistency and strength of the paper particles are different.
That's why it's important to try not to be wasteful, even in a world where we can recycle. Processing the materials for recycling can be costly and still puts pollutants into the environment. However, using less to begin with means it never has to be disposed or go through that process to begin with.
Still, if you find that you still want to use items that are kind of wasteful, like wrapping paper, finding a way to re-use them can help you lessen your footprint on our earth!