Wrapping paper is an easily found paper at homes and gift shops, and almost everyone uses it on every small and big occasion. Before using this, it becomes necessary for us to know, “If wrapping paper can be recycled or not?”
The answer to this is a partial yes. I know this sounds a bit illogical, but we’ve got an answer in detail. Wrapping papers come in different materials, and some are environment friendly, like brown paper.
On the other hand, some of them contain glitters, plastics, and other miscellaneous stuff, which erode the environment during recycling. There are several non-paper materials, too, which are used to make wrapping papers like harmful dyes, and such substances are unsafe for recycling. Hence, all wrapping papers can’t be put to recycle, but one can easily reuse them.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle:
You must give up the use of harmful wrapping papers which can’t be decomposed. This is so because these wrapping papers become the major cause of impacting lands with heaps of waste.
This waste keeps gathered in a pile for several thousand years due to many harmful threats posed to organisms residing in the ecosystem. For the same reasons, it is vital to completely reduce or cut off the use of plastic-based and non-paper wrapping papers from the grass-root level.
If something takes too much time to decompose in nature, that must be reused every now and then. This reduces its probability of being dumped on certain open grounds. It protects the green environment and promotes sustainable development. The materials can be used in a number of DIY projects, and they can work as a great source of increasing your creativity.
Recycling any item is the biggest lifesaver for the earth. It not only reduces landfill waste but also helps in the formation of new products. The items to be made are generated on the basis of raw material that has to be recycled. Wrapping papers can be recycled to form a number of papers and their derivative products. It saves a major portion of energy.
Small activity to know if the wrapping paper can be recycled or not:
There are 2 basic activities which you can perform to get a clear idea about the material of your wrapping paper.
1. First method
Take a sheet of wrapping paper that has to be tested. Hold it in your hands and rip the sheet into pieces. If the sheet tears away easily, it is paper. Paper-based implies that it can be recycled, and it doesn’t contain any non-paper additives.
If the wrapping paper doesn’t tear away, the sheet is certainly made up of plastic and other non-paper items that can’t be recycled easily. This method explains the contents of wrapping paper without using any apparatus. Therefore, it’s quite effective.
2. Second method
Just like first the method, hold the wrapping paper to be tested in your hands. Later, use your fingers to crumble the sheets completely between your fist. After this, you will notice a tiny and thick ball location.
This ball will seem to be rough for some obvious reasons. Observe this texture for some seconds; if it starts to open up and the shape gets distorted, it is made up of some glossy material or plastic, which is unfit for recycling. If this ball doesn’t open and keeps its shape unchanged for extended durations, the wrapping paper is made up of paper-based elements.
Both these methods are straightforward and efficient for testing the contents of wrapping paper. You can use both of them at any instance of time. The biggest advantage of utilizing these methods is that they require no other sources for testing the wrapping paper.
Can you compost wrapping paper?
Wrapping paper, like any other substance, can be put to composting if it is made of paper. During the composting process, larger molecules break down by the action of certain useful bacteria present in the soil, and they get converted into smaller ones. Certain wrapping papers are made up of heavy metals like lead and arsenic.
These heavy metals prevent the wrapping paper from breaking down into smaller particles. As a result, the process of composting eventually stops. Not only heavy metals, but the addition of some toxic and chemical-based papers do the same too.
Different kinds of glitters, dyes, ribbons, and bows are also used to make the wrapping paper look aesthetically appealing. One must never forget that such items should not be allowed to be put in the compost. The sole purpose of composting is to decompose the item so that it does not cause any threat to the emerging state of the environment and enhance the soil’s nutrients.
On the other hand, there are wrapping papers which include brown papers, newspapers, regular glossy papers, and other fibrous sheets. These sheets are fully safe to be decomposed because any harmful substances do not form them. The ink of newspapers is also soy-based. Composting such sheets results in the precise breakdown of elements and that too in an environment-friendly manner.
Steps involved in compost
1. Shred all the materials
Wrapping paper must be shredded properly with the help of a shredder. This enabled the paper to scatter at all places in the composting bin. You also have to use grass and vegetable shavings for the same.
Also, take a fine amount of dry leaves and sawdust to crush them in the shredder too. The shredding part is important because if the materials are allowed to be added to the bin without cutting them into shreds, the compost is most likely to deteriorate due to the scarcity of oxygen.
The thick accumulation of all the substances causes them to condense into a pile. All the materials do not get optimum conditions of sunlight, water, and other nutrients in a pile. This stops the compost from growing further, and the process becomes in vain.
This results in the wastage of wrapping paper, which otherwise could be used in some other useful manner. After shredding the material, you can move to the next step.
2. Bury them in a fine ratio
It’s a definite rule for growing compost that you require two types of substances. They are called greens and browns. Greens are those substances that are rich in nitrogen. On the other hand, browns are those substances that are rich in carbon.
Their richness allows them to pass these nutrients into the compost. There is a specific ratio that is said to be accurate based on the value of their content. The ratio of using greens to browns must be approximately 1:3. This ratio results in the fine growth of compost in the bin. After collecting all the materials:
- Classify them into two categories, greens and browns.
- Later, bury them in a pile-like structure.
- Do not keep the pile too large.
It must be within a moderate length of 3 to 5 feet in the bin. After this, you can move to the next and final step.
3. Observe the bin carefully
Here, you must keep an eye on the compost being made after some regular time intervals. Keep the bin covered to prevent pesticide action. Also, do not forget to add a genuine amount of water so that the compost does not get dry.
Keep in mind that you keep an eye on the environmental conditions too. This is so because only an optimum amount of water or humidity is essential for the growth of compost.
On a hot, sunny day, the compost can get fully dry, so adding water to it from time to time is essential. On the other hand, extra care must be granted during a rainy day so that the materials inside it do not leach out of the bin.
Hence, the excess water has to be removed. Keep the bin covered with a shelter that doesn’t allow the rainwater to percolate in it. The presence of humidity fastens the process.
The pile’s temperature in the bin must be high enough to decompose all the substances in it. After 6-8 weeks, you will observe that the compost will transform into dark brown-colored soil. This will easily start to crumble in your hands by applying some force with the help of your fingers. In such a way, your compost gets ready.
Ways to reuse wrapping paper
• For DIY works
Wrapping paper can be reused in several ways. Items like ribbons, glues, bows, stickers, and glitters can be reused in decorating other gift sheets. This not only provides a new look to the gift but also helps in keeping the environment safe.
It is better to put these items on brown recycled paper instead of the one which is plastic-based. With this step, your old wrapping paper or sheets can be rejuvenated. You simply have to use a paper-based tape or environment-friendly glue to stick them on the paper.
If you use plastic-based tapes, it’ll again fall in the category of being a non-recyclable sheet. For this, it is of prime importance to be careful and aware of every item that is going to be reused for the same.
You must store them in a separate box, or anywhere you want to but be sure that you remember the whereabouts of all these items. They must be kept at a place where they become easily accessible for you at any given fraction of time.
In this way, bows and ribbons can be put to the phenomenon of reusing without the need for any other fancy thing to decorate the gift sheets.
• As house decor
In house decor, wrapping sheets play a major role. You can also use these sheets to cover any kind of patches visible on the wall. This can be done by just cutting a tiny portion of the reusable wrapping paper and sticking it over the patch of the wall.
Despite this, you can use sheets of wrapping paper to cover the windows. In making frames on your own, using these sheets does immense wonders. You can cut them for the edges of photo frames by adjusting them according to the frame’s dimensions on your wall, and your room decor becomes simply pleasing to the observer.
Also, if you feel like making lanterns of these wrapping papers during Christmas, you can surely give it a try. These lanterns are not only easy to make but also increase your house’s beauty during the festive season. You can customize these lanterns as you wish. Therefore, it is easy and convenient to use wrapping papers for decoration purposes in your house.
• As covers
This is the most popular usage of already used wrapping paper. Many people have a habit of maintaining journals. Normally, people like to keep it aesthetic so that they can experience a calm and serene vibe every time they write something on it.
Not only journals, some people who belong to the profession of drawing sketches, or people who just have a habit of maintaining a sketchbook also like to keep their books organized and properly neat.
They try to maintain it with the utmost patience and elegance. For this, they use already used wrapping papers to cover these white sheet books, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, and other journal-related books.
A vast majority of people like to use different prints and shades on one cover. They usually cut some portions from each wrapping sheet. These cut portions can be torn off irregularly or with proper dimensions depending upon the desired outcome, they wish to see.
Later, these pieces are pasted on the hardcover to make the book beautiful. This draws every person’s attention to this particular book as it seems extraordinary to them.
Precautions to be kept in mind
• Never add tapes or glitters
Wrapping paper consists of certain extra items like glitters, bows, ribbons, tapes, stickers, and many other items. The idea behind using these materials is to increase the pleasant-looking beauty of wrapping paper, which is wrapped around a present.
The addition of such stuff makes it seem artistic and unique but have you ever wondered, “If they can be recycled?” The answer is a definite no. It is the worst decision to put this stuff for recycling. This is due to the composition of all such materials.
These items contain some harmful chemicals and toxins, which, if tried recycled, can release harmful emulsions. This poisonous and toxic release of gases will affect the health of humans and other organisms quite adversely.
It causes respiratory irritancy, lung disorders, breathing issues, severe asthma, and other skin-related ailments. Despite the health hazards, these items are complicated to be decomposed. It is challenging for the bigger molecules to transform into smaller ones.
The decomposition process takes thousands of years for things like plastic tapes and bows, and the earth suffers harmful repercussions. Due to these reasons, you must never use items like ribbons, glitters, glues, bows, and stickers for recycling.
• Use plain paper for decomposing
Using plain paper is the best possible option for recycling. Plain paper refers to brown paper. It can also include regular glossy papers, which are free from harmful dyes. You can use newspapers for recycling, too, because the dye used in them is fully soy-based.
It is made from Soya beans and natural plant pigments found or extracted from nature. Due to the absence of harmful toxins and chemicals, the poisonous release of gases falls to zero.
This keeps the environment safe by keeping the air fit for breathing. This doesn’t cause any pollution too. Many times, people use heavy metal-based gift wrapping sheets too. They contain metals like lead and arsenic, which harms the environment by releasing some toxic gases.
Hence, you must avoid such elements as much as possible to preserve and protect the green environment for a prolonged duration. It is better to switch to brown papers for obvious reasons.
The brown paper is made from the tree’s bark in the most organic way possible. It’s free from all types of chemicals. It can also be customized or decorated with different colored pens and markers by drawing different sketches or patterns of your choice.
Wrapping papers are found extensively in every corner of the world, but being a responsible citizen, it is one’s prime duty to use only plain paper. This will ease the environment by not degrading its air quality with certain harmful gases.
With each passing day, the pollution on earth is only increasing, which has many disadvantages for everyone. From causing a rise in temperature to being a cause of diseases, it is hazardous. To get rid of this, our small actions will play a vital role. Hence, it’s high time for us to understand reusing, reducing, and recycling principles.