As you prepare to purchase and ship holiday gifts for family and friends, think about choosing items that have the least amount of packaging, whether paper, cardboard, or, especially, plastic. A gift that comes in multiple layers of plastic creates unnecessary waste that cannot be recycled and may cause harm to birds and other wildlife, and extra paper packaging may never make its way into recycling centers and therefore waste trees. Avoid gifts that are packaged in Styrofoam, which does not break down and is generally not accepted for recycling. Use organic, biodegradable packing “peanuts” (i.e. made of corn starch) instead of synthetic packing materials. And save and reuse packaging materials from gifts you receive, to use again next year. Our choices as consumers can make a statement to manufacturers about what goods, and practices, we find environmentally friendly, so make both the selection of the gift itself and its packaging a conscious decision!