It's the time to give and be grateful—and, too often, to be wasteful. Each year between Thanksgiving and New Year's, Americans pitch an estimated 25 million tons of extra trash, a main component of which is packaging. A few tips for giving green:
Tens of thousands of miles of ribbon are discarded every year. Reuse ribbon, or dispense with it by attaching a sprig of holly or a tree ornament in lieu of a bow.
Wrap presents in old magazines, calendars, newspapers, or paper bags. According to Robert Lilienfeld and William Rathje's book, Use Less Stuff (Ballantine), if every household wrapped just three presents this way, we'd save enough paper to cover some 45,000 football fields.
Or don't wrap at all. Make the package part of the present: Slip kitchen items into an oven mitt or a tea towel, tuck earrings into a jewelry box, or arrange gardening tools in a planter.
If you do decide to use traditional gift wrap for some gifts, be sure to choose recycled paper. And when all the unwrapping is done, remove tape and ribbons and put the paper in the recycling bin, not the trash or the fire (the dyes in wrapping paper can emit harmful chemicals when burned).