Joyce Leach of the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Council has a new idea for holiday gift wrapping paper - use the Deseret News' Sunday color comics section.

Actually, she didn't specify which newspaper one should use. But she said recycling the comics into wrapping paper is a more environmentally sound choice than traditional wrappings."Wrapping paper is not recyclable because of the heavy inks and the type of paper used," Leach said. "It may dress up your packages for a few days, but it stays in the landfill indefinitely."

Those recyclable Sunday funnies are cheery with bright colors, and what youngster wouldn't be excited to find a gift under the tree with Calvin and Hobbes prancing across it?

In addition, disposable saucers, tablecloths and other bright paper throw-away items used for parties should be avoided if possible this holiday season, Leach says.

"Remember Earth Day when we all vowed to treat our planet with care and respect?" asked Leach. "Often good intentions fall to pieces in the face of holiday traditions, and many continue to do things the same old way."

Alternatives that are more environmentally sound are available to the throw-away habit, she said. Instead of cluttering landfills with paper products used for one party, a host could rent dishes, napkins, cups, saucers, tablecloths and glasses.

"Check with linen supply services or caterers," she said. "If you must use disposable tableware, use the kind made from recycled paper. Remind guests to keep all aluminum beverage cans and glass containers out of the garbage can."

Instead, when the cans and bottles are empty, put them into recycling boxes marked "Glass" or "Cans."

"The Salt Lake Valley Landfill receives over 2,100 tons of garbage every day," Leach said. "During the holiday season, the daily tonnage increases by 5 to 10 percent."

By making simple changes on purchasing habits, and in entertaining tradition, everyone can help to give a holiday present to the planet.


(Additional information)

Other environmental suggestions:

- Send cards made from recycled paper. This type of card, wrapping paper and other environmentally sensitive gifts are available through companies called Utah Green Products, Grunts & Postures and the Jeweled Maiden.

- Reuse cloth, nylon or net shopping bags, available at some area supermarkets. For those who love hot chocolate or coffee, take a ceramic mug to the office. Use an aluminum can crusher. Buy rechargeable batteries and a charger.

- Rather than take usable items to the landfill, donate them to a charitable organization. Toys, used appliances, furniture and many other things are thrown out especially during the holiday seasons, often because new ones are received as gifts.