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The holidays are a time of generosity and giving, but have you considered what else you’re giving along with that thoughtful present? The Clean Air Council has estimated that every year, in the US, 8 billion pounds of waste is generated during the holidays from wrapping paper and shopping bags alone. Not only does this take up space in landfills, which has negative economic, social, and environmental consequences, but it takes a lot of trees too. Using the most conservative estimate for the lower end, thinner wrapping paper, at 8 trees per ton, equates to 16 to 32 million trees are cut down each year just to wrap our gifts!


The good news is that there are many alternatives to traditional gift wrap.


  • Choose gift wrap that is:

    • Made from recycled product

    • Made in the U.S.

    • Non-metallic

    • Compostable, not just biodegradable, as there is a difference. Make sure it is composted properly, as it will likely not decompose in a landfill.

  • Use reusable fabric gift bags or stretchable fabric wraps

    • These are great because they make gift wrapping easy and are reusable so there is no waste!

    • Make sure to buy a pack with multiple sizes of the fabric wraps, as they can become transparent if stretched too much.

    • If they’re made of synthetic material, such as polyester, avoid washing as it releases microfibers into the waterways.

  • Reuse other paper products for your gift wrap

    • Using newspapers is a classic solution to waste reduction and can add some fun to unwrapping your gift, as you can catch up on the local news or funnies.

    • Customize your gift wrapping/bag by creating a personalized collage from old magazines


A few other ways to reduce waste include:

Give service oriented or donation based gifts - Avoiding a product-based gift such as clothes, jewelry, or knick-knacks the other person may not be into can not only avoid unnecessary waste, but also be end up being a more unique and personalized gift. Instead, buy a gift card to a local restaurant (bonus points if it is a restaurant utilizing sustainable practices like Moku Roots). Buy someone an experience like a SUP lesson or zipline tour. Skyline eco-adventures is a great choice because they offer a fun zipline course and are truly dedicated to their mission, a huge part of which is “aiding in the preservation and perpetuation of the islands unique land and culture”. Consider a cause that your loved one is passionate about and make a charitable donation in their honor, or promise to volunteer a certain amount of your time for the cause.


Use a real tree - It is perfectly fine to go treeless for the holidays, but if you don’t feel like it’s the holidays without one, use a real tree instead of a plastic tree to avoid adding plastic waste to the world. Many trees are sustainably grown but, seeing as we live in Hawaii, they were most likely shipped to us, adding emissions to the atmosphere, which is not necessarily a deal breaker but something to consider. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council certification or other evidence of sustainable practices. For a long term Hawaii green solution, grow a native ‘Ohi‘a tree, which naturally embodies the colors of christmas with its beautiful green leaves and bright red blossoms. Grow in a pot for easy maneuverability from outside to indoors. 

Buy Local - Buying products from local businesses means significantly more of your dollars are being used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms — strengthening the economic base of the whole community. Also, because local companies are much more likely to make purchases from other local businesses, less transportation is required, reducing harmful emissions. It is also easier to know if the company supports the community and environment, in addition to its bottom line. 


This holiday season, enjoy your ‘ohana while doing what you can to ensure a better world for their future.

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