No more paper piles

Make your holidays green by changing your gift-wrapping habits

The pile. You know what we’re talking about. It’s that giant multicolored elephant in the room next to the tree on Christmas morning. That mass of nonrecyclable ribbons, bows and foil-flecked wrapping paper accounts for a sizable portion of the extra tons being dumped in the landfill during the holidays (an extra 1 million tons per day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s). Reducing that pile of items at the dump begins with reducing the pile in the living room. Here are some tips:

• Buck tradition and bring something new to the party by wrapping gifts in natural-fiber fabrics, leftover paper (funny pages, old maps, posters, old wallpaper) or a wearable item like a silk scarf. Or simply put your gift in a decorative tin or other reusable container.

• Save your wrapping paper from this season and reuse it next year.

• Make sure your tape doesn’t contain any PVC, or seek out gummed paper tape or clear cellulose tape. If you can’t find it locally, check out

• Buy paper and cards made from sustainable materials like hemp, cotton fiber or recycled cotton. Or pick up more exotic (and more beautiful) wrapping options such as banana paper or silk tissue (

• Instead of ribbons and bows, top your gifts with reusable seasonal items like ornaments or cookie cutters, or fragrant fresh herbs like rosemary or lavender. Or, how about topping your gift with another small gift!

If you absolutely can’t tear yourself away from green sheets covered in poinsettia leaves or snowmen, at least spend your paper-wrapping budget somewhere where it will do some good for others. The ARC’s gift-wrapping station (2030 Park Ave.) is open daily, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and the Butte Humane Society’s booth, inside Barnes & Noble (2031 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway), is open daily, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Sources:,, National Geographic’s Green Guide.