Businesses Urged to Cut Package, Holiday Wrapping Waste

Hillary Allen, Santa Barbara recycling expert, discusses holiday trash at Toad & Co.

Whether the end of the year brings more fire and rain, one thing is for sure: More garbage will be generated from the holidays than any other time of the year. 

“American holidays are built around waste,” said Hillary Allen, diversion educator with Santa Barbara’s Environmental Services Department. 

Allen spoke to a small group of business people at Toad & Co. on Dec. 3 in an effort to find a way to curb the mountains of trash generated from merchandise packaging, holiday gift wrapping and “cheap gifts.” 

Toad & Co. Is a Santa Barbara-based company that sells apparel that is environmentally friendly and promotes sustainability. 

A frequent speaker on recycling and proper rubbish disposal, Allen said should tell businesses they buy from not to “give me a bag of trash,” referring to all the cardboard, styrofoam and plastic that comes with many purchases along with wrapping and a bag to carry. 

Much of that ends up in a landfill, she said, which is an environmental problem. 

Allen had many tips to cut waste, such as: don’t wrap gifts in tissue and bags; ask for a digital receipt; and use reusable holiday trees. 

“Don’t buy a tree from Minnesota,” she said. If a live tree is preferred, she said, buy it locally. Artificial trees eventually will end up in a landfill, but should get many years of use. 

When shopping, Allen said, bring your own reusable bags and water bottles. 

“Don’t buy ‘gag’ gifts,” she said, because they usually get thrown away. Make or find heirloom gifts, which last longer, and buy locally. 

Allen said she prefers to give simple but useful gifts such as spices and wrap them in reusable cloths or old paper maps with natural ribbons such as twine.

Posted Dec. 3, 2019.

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