University of South Florida

Our gifts generate garbage! Be sure to recycle paper and packaging as you unwrap.

Dr. Rene Salazar.

Think twice as you and your family unwrap holiday gifts this year. A few simple steps can help you guide the leftover giftwrap and packaging you’ve just generated into the right avenues for recycling.

The impact would be huge if we all practiced these easy steps, says COPH’s recycling expert Rene Salazar, PhD.

“The holiday season brings with it a lot of waste,” said Dr. Salazar, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the USF College of Public Health. “But much of it can be recycled. If we all take these simple steps, in every household, we would affect big changes in redirecting recyclable materials away from landfills and into the recycling stream.”

COPH sound-icon-png Listen to Dr. Salazar’s gift wrapping tips.

Here are a few tips we can all follow this holiday, and hopefully continue into the New Year throughout our household.

  • Make your own holiday cards, using paper that can be recycled.
  • Choose gifts that use less packaging or use packaging made from recycled materials.
  • Don’t use typical bows and ribbons, which are made of materials that are not recyclable. Save bows and ribbons you receive for future use.
  • Choose giftwrap that is recyclable, which most are but be sure to check the labels.
  • Have a few large bags or boxes at the ready as your family unwraps their gifts, immediately separating paper from plastic.
  • Styrofoam can be recycled, although not usually through our residential recycling programs. Publix offers bins for Styrofoam recycling.

Shipment packaging can be used to box a present.


Photos and graphics by Sandra C. Roa, USF Health Communications

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