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Hampton/Shaler

Millvale Community Library encourages patrons to rethink wrapping paper

| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, 1:33 a.m.

Americans spend nearly $3 billion on gift wrap and related items annually, according to Hallmark. And, it all has to go somewhere after people unwrap their presents.

“A lot of gift wrap isn’t recyclable because of the coating on the paper, which is often shiny and laminated,” the Environmental Protection Agency website states. “However, check with your local recycling provider first to be certain and for the best ways to dispose of wrapping paper.”

The agency advises people seeking wrapping paper to purchase recyclable types or kinds produced from recycled content. The organization also encourages people to reuse gift bags, boxes and tissue paper, rather than discarding them.

The Millvale Community Library is helping people of all ages take steps toward making the holidays greener with its “Rethinking Wrapping Paper” workshops from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 15 and Jan. 5.

“For the one before Christmas, we will actually be sewing bigger drawstring bags, almost like Santa bags, that people can use to transport gifts for their friends. But, instead of wrapping up gifts, they can put their gifts in a bundle,” said Roman Benty, maker program director.

People should save the gift wrap from their holiday presents for use during the second session, which will involve repurposing the material into household items.

Library executive director Susan McClellan said that she and her husband have a “whole garbage bag of waste” after gift-giving each year. She said to consider that many Americans discard a similar amount of wrap, bows and gift tags.

“We want to do this program to promote sustainability and recycling. We’re happy to do different recycling events here.”

Board secretary Melissa Mason will volunteer as lead teaching artist for the January session. As a teaching artist at the Point Breeze-based Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, she educates people about exploring their creativity through reuse.

“I’ve used wrapping paper for collages, picture frames and games in my preschool teacher days, so I should be able to come up with some fun ideas,” said Mason, who also works as a child development specialist.

“My goal is to use my expertise to engage the community in responsible practices that reduce waste by creating something new while having fun,” Mason said. “Hopefully these programs will get people thinking about how they can repurpose other items in their homes.”

Benty mentioned that people can construct holiday ornaments and stationery using recycled gift wrap, as well.

“I think this is a unique opportunity to kind of re-examine wrapping paper and other practices. ‘You know, how necessary is this? Is there a better way we can do that?’ So, I think this is a more sustainable way to approach the holidays, but, moreover, it’s going to be really fun,” Benty said.

The Triboro EcoDistrict, a New Sun Rising initiative promoting coordinated sustainable community development in Etna, Millvale and Sharpsburg, is making the events possible.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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