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Buy recycled and tree-free wrapping paper

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There are two great green options when it comes to buying eco-friendly wrapping paper. The fist, recycled giftwrap, lets you give two gifts at once—one for that special somebody and one for the earth. You save trees, boost production of more post-consumer waste paper, and raise demand for additional paper recycling. Second, is the wild mix of no-tree fiber wrapping paper—everything from kenaf to sugar cane to Daphne bush bark—sure to garner a big green thank you from gift recipients and the planet alike.

Find it! Recycled and tree-free wrapping paper

These chic, sustainable options are a great way to dress up gifts of all shapes and sizes. If you're looking for additional razzle dazzle, look into eco-friendly bows, ribbons, and the like.

Before you buy

Be careful with wrapping paper advertised as "recycled." This could mean it merely employs a mix of virgin wood fiber and pre-consumer waste. Instead, check product labels for a high percentage of post-consumer waste (ideally, 100 percent PCW).

Buying recycled and tree-free wrapping paper helps you go green because…

  • It preserves virgin timber resources along with the energy used to harvest them.
  • Purchasing products that contain post-consumer waste encourages further recycling efforts.
  • The process of producing wrapping paper from tree-free sources requires less energy and chemicals than conventional wood-based giftwrap.

As much as half of all the 85 million tons of paper products America consumes every year goes toward packaging, wrapping, and decorating consumer goods.[1][2] Unfortunately, paper production is responsible for about a fifth of the total wood harvest worldwide, and about 93 percent of today's paper comes from trees.[3] The good news: producing recycled paper uses about 60 percent of the energy needed to make paper from virgin wood pulp.[4] According to figures released by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1 ton of recycled paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, two barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity.[4]

Buying recycled and/or tree-free wrapping paper for all your giftwrapping needs also keeps piles of paper out of landfills year-round. This is especially true during the holiday shopping season when Americans create an average of 25 percent more waste than usual, to the tune of 1 million additional tons each week between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.[5][6]

An alternative to timber-based pulp and paper are wrapping products produced from a variety of other renewable materials, the most prominent being agricultural crops. This is because these fiber sources grow rapidly, the harvesting is much gentler to ecosystems than foresting, and the processing of the fibers to produce pulp requires less energy and chemicals compared to tree fibers.

Crops grown specifically for paper-making include kenaf, hemp, jute, and flax, while residues from agricultural crops such as sugar cane husk and the straws left over from wheat, rye, oats, rice, and barley are also a resource. Banana paper, handmade from the bark of the banana tree stem, looks delicate but is strong. Lotka paper comes from the skin of the Daphne plant, which grows in the highlands of Nepal. It's harvested while still a sapling stick, and once cut it begins to grow again.

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