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Love using glittery, shiny wrapping paper? It can harm the environment

Environmental experts encourage gift-givers to use reusable things as gift wrapping.

PORTLAND, Ore — Here's something to think about before you start wrapping all those Christmas presents: Some of that paper might be harming birds and marine life.

If you want to give back to planet Earth in this season of giving, one of the best things you can do is forego all that flashy wrapping and instead opt for the slightly duller but much more Earth-friendly kind.

That's really for two reasons.

For one, all that shiny looking wrapping paper and similar gift bags or ribbons cannot be recycled. That's because, in order to get that sheen, they are often coated in plastic.

Secondly, the glitter on those bags and paper is actually made from tiny pieces of plastic.

So each time we bring a glittery wrapped present into our home, we're also bringing in a nice batch of microplastics.

By now, you've probably heard how bad those are for our environment, but in case you forgot, Oregon Environmental Council has this reminder:

"These teeny tiny pieces of plastics actually have the potential to enter our waterways and streams every time we wash our hands, wash our clothes, do the dishes," said OEC's Jamie Pang. "You think you're just buying a Christmas bag, but not only is it not recyclable, it has the potential to harm fish and aquatic wildlife and birds."

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, between the weeks of Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans throw out about 25% more trash than normal.

And that is why environmental experts encourage gift-givers to instead use reusable things like tea towels or dish towels as wrapping, maybe even a scarf. Or reuse old tins or jars, almost everyone appreciates those.

In other words, this holiday season, think about following the "Three R Rule." Recycle, reuse and rethink how you wrap those gifts.

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