What would December be without gifts? The perfect present accompanied by the perfect wrapping and of course, the endless packaging. From Menorah mess to Christmas trash and general holiday leftover who-hash, there is plenty to go around.
Especially when it comes to boxes. For all the beautiful paper, bows, and who-zits, let’s face it—much of the holiday spirit is wrapped up in “the box”. The cardboard box is the essence of the gift and the giving, right? The anticipation of receiving the pleasant unknown that’s hidden within.
But after the rush of revelation, what about the discarded parts? What happens to them?
On average, Americans generate 25% more waste during the holiday season (https://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/most-wasteful-time-year).
It’s a staggering reality. Cardboard boxes are traditionally a major contributor to the holiday waste pool. Even during more quiet consumer seasons, the use of mailed cardboard boxes has tripled thanks to delivery services. This overflow has slowed the near-record OCC (old corrugated cardboard) values recycling companies saw in 2017. But after steep plummets in the price per ton, the markets are beginning to level out in late 2018.
That upswing reaffirms these boxes containing our postal treasures are gold themselves. The key is capture and quality. Like other potential paper recyclables that find a wayward path during December, high volume recyclables must be collected and sorted at a recycling center first. Sadly, more and more of these paper commodities end up heading for the landfill.
But the prognosis does not have to be all Grinch and Grim this December.
Recycling Centers brace for this time of year by adding extra routes to pick up schedules and increasing manpower on the sorting lines. Much of our wrapping waste can be recycled. Here is a quick guide to which wrapping and packaging can be recycled. Check with your local recycling centers to ensure acceptance.
Wrapping Items to be recycled at a Recycling Center:
- Plain Wrapping Paper—no metallic, fabric flocking (velvet), or glitter
- Gift Bags—same rules above apply
- Christmas Cards
- And, of course, Cardboard Boxes
Yes, back to the boxes. Certainly, my hope is that you’ll collect and fill your recycling bin with as much as a sleigh can carry this holiday. There is still much love to give in that cardboard container. But please consider alternative ends for your boxes!
What if the present packaging became a packaging present?
This holiday season we challenge you—our subscribers and friends—to a contest! Build something amazing with your Elemental Box this week. Take pictures and post to Facebook and/or Instagram and tag with the hashtag #elementalboxchallenge. Our winner will receive a free box of Elemental toilet paper delivered to their doorstep. Let’s all pitch in to reduce or repurpose any waste we generate during this festive time of year
Below is a quick tutorial on a gift I am making my boys from repurposed Elemental Boxes (see our Instagram for a more detailed sequence). I know this gift will fire up our imaginations and remind my kids that not all presents need to be costly to be from the heart. And it will save our Elemental Boxes from the clutches of the landfill. I was inspired by a camp my son attended this past summer. The whole camp was spent building a city out of cardboard pieces the teachers had collected throughout the year. From fridge boxes to shirt boxes and every manner of Amazon dimensional corrugated you could imagine, there rose up a kid city long enough to fill an entire school hallway.
So…What would you build with an Elemental box like this?