Green up your festive season: holiday gifting with less waste

One way to counteract this is to rethink your usual Christmas gift wrapping methods and decorations and green up your holiday celebrations.

Glittery, fancy gift packaging ends up as waste.

Before rushing out to buy glittery gift wrapping, satin ribbons and laminated gift bags, think about the gifts you have received in the past and what you did with the packaging. If gift packaging/wrap is foiled or has plastic/glitter/metal accessories and plastic coating, then it’s non-recyclable, therefore its lifespan is limited, however its impact on the planet will last for decades as it will most likely end up in landfill.

Gifts [photo]

Think reduce; reuse; recycle.

Reducing, reusing or recycling Christmas packaging can make an enormous difference to the environment.

According to the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA), one tonne of recycled paper can save up to three cubic metres of landfill space. In 2021, 1.15 million tonnes of paper and paper packaging was recycled. This represents a paper recovery rate of just over 61%, which was subsequently converted into new paper products. That volume of paper would have taken up 3.6 million cubic metres of landfill space, or 1,435 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Festive season recycling tips:

  1. Get creative:

    Have fun and celebrate the festive season by making your own festive wrapping paper, cards, decorations and gifts. Before buying anything and later disposing of it, try reuse, up-cycle or DIY with materials you already have. Try stick to recyclable materials like paper and cardboard. If you do need to buy a few bits and bobs that’s okay, just make sure it doesn’t have glitter or foiling so that you can recycle it afterwards.
  2. Reduce:

    Consider gift-wrapping in newspaper with a string or paper ribbon (the usual satin ribbon is not recycled), or lovingly placing gifts in a cardboard box. Recycle it once the gift giving is complete. Practical and ecological, you can personalise the gift wrap by theming it according to your loved one’s interests. As well as being eco-conscious, this way of wrapping your gifts is also original and surprising.
  3. Recycle:

    Encourage your children to recycle paper and cardboard decorations, wrapping and cards in the New Year, either through their local Ronnie Recycler School programme, through community drop-off points or through the Residential Estates Recycling programme. WhatsApp us to find out where your nearest drop-off point is.
  4. Separate at source:

    When you’re visiting friends and family, encourage them to separate out their recyclables. By separating your paper, plastic, glass and cans at source from your everyday rubbish enables a far greater percentage to be recycled. Be aware that when they are mixed with normal waste they can become contaminated and unusable. This doesn’t mean you need a bin for each recyclable. A two-bin system works just as well – a recycling bin and a rubbish bin.

Gifts [photo]

As the leading recycler in South Africa, Mpact Recycling collects approximately 600,000 tonnes of recovered recyclables per annum. We run numerous pick-up programmes via schools, communities, residential estates and offices. These initiatives raise recycling awareness and create income opportunities, pushing recycling levels to new heights.

The types of recycling that we collect include:

  1. Cardboard:

    Flattened and used boxes like the ones you would have received from online purchasing of Christmas gifts.
  2. Paper:

    Examples include newspapers and white office paper.
  3. Plastic:

    Examples are cooldrink bottles, mineral water bottles, plastic bags, bubble wrap and containers. Look for plastic codes 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE), 4 (LDPE) and 5 (PP) to ensure they end up at one of our branches.
  4. Other:

    These include items such as aluminium cans, glass bottles and jars, and e-waste – mobile phone chargers, computer equipment and gaming consoles.

Recycling types [photo]

It is important to remember that the value of recycled waste will decrease if it is contaminated. Wet waste and food waste are the most common contaminants.

Tackle recycling carefully:

  • Set up a storage area where you can easily separate out your recyclables.
  • Get colourful containers or boxes and label them for ease of reference.
  • Involve the family so that it becomes a daily habit to separate. You will be surprised how little will actually go into your refuse bin.
  • Move the bin a little closer. If you’re having a ‘major rager’, put your recycling bin near your guests so it’s easy for them to dispose of their recyclables easily.

By caring for our environment and enjoying festive family fun, we can all have a wonderful festive season and a happy New Year in the knowledge that our planet is a cleaner one.

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