Properly Disposing of Gift Wrappings and Packaging

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated April 25, 2022)

Because I am such a frugal and practical person, each year when I wrap gifts I think of the cost of the wrappings, trimmings, and bows, and what a waste it is to throw away something that cost so much. Most times, I use as little wrap as I can, saving the remainder for subsequent gift-giving events. At Christmas, I certainly always save shirt boxes and bows and recycle them year after year, until they finally fall apart and I am forced to throw them away.

There is the packaging of the items themselves to deal with, as well. For instance, I bought a flying saucer for our eight-year-old daughter several Christmases ago. The saucer was sealed in a tough, plastic package. To gain access to the gift, I had to use heavy-duty scissors to cut through the hard plastic. It took about ten minutes to complete the process, all the while Abby sat in anticipation of touching the saucer inside. What is the proper way to dispose of such a container? Do you simply toss it out with the garbage, or do you throw it in your recycle bin?

Follow these guidelines for choosing eco-friendly gift wrappings and properly disposing of wrappings and packaging:

  • Sort. When opening Christmas presents with your family, have three large boxes or garbage bags ready. Instruct everyone to toss bows into one, boxes and shirt boxes into another, and wadded wrap into the last. Throw out the Christmas wrap, but save the bows and boxes for another event.
  • Shred. Tear or cut plastic item packages into smaller parts and place inside of a box or bag. Contact your local recycling center for proper disposal instructions for hard plastic packaging.
  • Imagination. Invent ways to wrap gifts using other materials instead of wrap. For instance, if you're giving a kitchen item, you could wrap it inside of a new kitchen towel and tie it with a colorful kitchen wash cloth. Scarves, bandanas, and belts can also be used creatively to wrap gifts.
  • Reuse. I bought three candles from Bath & Body Works yesterday, and they wrapped each with several layers of heavy tissue paper. I folded the tissue and will use it for wrapping Christmas presents this year.
  • Recycle. Find ways to recycle gift wrap and use environmentally-friendly wraps that do not contain metallic elements.

Also, it is a good idea to contact your trash service and ask about removal of large boxes, such as those that computer monitors, washers and dryers, refrigerators, and large TV screens come in. Simply because you set large items at your curb does not mean that the trash service will pick them up. Do not assume they will. If in doubt, call them to make sure.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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