Though the holidays are a time of year to spend with the people that are most important in your lives, sometimes it's the UPS or Postal Service delivery person that's lucky enough to hand your presents to them. As we ramp up into the full swing of holiday gift giving, hordes of men and women wearing navy blue shorts or Pullman brown sweaters are knocking on doors and ringing doorbells, delivering gifts from loved ones near and far. While you look for those last minute presents that say you care (even though you may not be there to see them opened), here are a few easy tips to wrap and send your gifts more sustainably.
First Impressions Mean Everything
As the first thing that people see when their presents arrive, boxes are great places to start to greening your gift giving this year. When wrapping gifts, try to put them in brown, corrugated cardboard boxes. They are almost always recyclable. Use the smallest size box possible also. The larger the box, the more room it takes up on a truck or plane, so fewer packages make the trip. A smaller box may also help you save on shipping costs.
Keep Those Gifts Comfy By Keeping It Simple
Instead of packing peanuts, consider using shredded or crumpled up newspaper to cushion your gifts. If you're looking for added cushion, use inflatable air packs, which provide a lot of protection without requiring a lot of raw material.
Though those nasty styrofoam peanuts are the bane of many environmentalists' existence, if you have them lying around, the best thing you can do is reuse them. If you do have previously used ones, check out these great ways to dispose of peanuts responsibly.
WATCH VIDEO: New Traditions: Green Packing
Stick With Me, We're Going Places
Did you know that there are environmentally-friendlier alternatives to petroleum-based scotch or masking tape? Something as small as tape often gets forgotten, but changing even the smallest things can add up to a big difference. One great alternative is water-activated (gummed) tape made from 100% recycled and re-pulpable brown Kraft paper. You can also find biodegradable cellulose tape made from wood pulp that comes from suppliers with extensive reforestation programs.
Getting from Point A to Point B
Though the transportation and packaging worlds often get criticized for their environmental impacts, most of the big name delivery companies have taken significant steps to green their operations. UPS, for example, has streamlined the way they ship packages to minimize how miles are driven or flown, and they run the industry's largest fleet of alternative fuel vehicles. They were also the first delivery company to join the EPA's Climate Leaders program. The USPS, timed with a partnership with eBay, launched cradle-to-cradle certified boxes in 2007, ensuring the sustainable nature of the physical products that they use. FedEx has also thrown its hat into the green ring, converting dozens of vehicles in its fleet to diesel-electric hybrids earlier this year. If you want to take it one step further, you can even offset the emissions of sending your present. Billions of dollars are spent every holiday season on gifts, which means billions of pounds of resources get used in wrapping them up and getting them to you. While there are great alternatives to the conventional holiday experience, when you do give a gift, remember that there are simple ways to do it as green as possible. Using--or better yet, reusing--sustainable materials can save you a bundle and seriously reduce your environmental impact.