Time to Cut Down on Wrapping Paper

By Alyssa Van Kuiken

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As Christmas time approaches and we begin to check off the items on our list of things that we need to buy for our family and friends, we also find on our shopping list things that we need to buy just to make the gifts presentable such as wrapping paper. Almost everyone finds themselves in need of this commodity for kids and adult gifts alike.

At Christmas we all expect to find wrapped presents under the tree, but why not simply place them in a gift bag or another more practical gift covering instead of wrapping paper?

There are several alternatives to using wrapping paper that can be reused when it comes to Christmas time, birthdays and other events where gifts are given. Some options include things like using cloth, repurposing newspaper, or using gift bags and all of these options could potentially cut back on the waste generated by wrapping paper. While some of the alternatives listed are slightly out of the norm, such as cloth wrappings, something as simple as using a gift bag can make a difference.

Yet, according to an infographic found on  Visual.ly ,

only nineteen percent of adults put items in gift bags instead of wrapping the items. 

Why is it that this number is so small despite the fact that using any of those items will help the environment by cutting down on the nearly 4 million tons of waste that are generated by gift wrapping and shopping bags per year (Garner).

Most people believe that they can recycle wrapping paper after they have torn it off of their gifts, but the information provided by several websites seems to say otherwise. WRAP, a UK based program, says that wrapping paper cannot often be recycled because of the way that it is made. Most papers contain dyes and lamination and tape is usually stuck to it, all of which make it difficult to recycle (WRAP). So despite the fact that many think that wrapping paper isn’t so bad because it can just be recycled and reused, it seems that it will eventually make its way to a landfill, not into new paper which will just add to our growing environmental problems.

It is generally true that you can wrap more presents with a roll of wrapping paper than you can if you took the same amount of money and bought gift bags in a single year. However, if you take into consideration how many times you can reuse bags in comparison to the one (or maybe two times) that you can use wrapping paper, it becomes easier to see that it is not that big of a financial difference.

American’s spend an estimated $2.6 billion on wrapping paper every year at an average of $4.99 per roll (Visual.ly).

If you take that number and look at how much wrapping paper you use in a year in comparison with how many years you can go without buying new bags simply by reusing them, you can see that it makes sense to make the switch for at least some of your gift giving.

Also, according to Statista.com, the average American is expected to spend roughly $906 on Christmas gifts in 2017, so even if there is a slightly elevated cost of packaging the gifts that you are giving by using bags, if you lump all of the Christmas costs together it will likely be a very minimal difference.

One argument that some have made is that wrapping paper is part of the fun of Christmas and that kids have been tearing through the paper to get to their toys on Christmas morning for years. This is a point that is hard to ignore. The thrill of tearing open that layer of paper and seeing that new doll or truck is one that many kids look forward to all year long, but why can’t they pull their toy out of a bag instead? Will the effect really be that big of a difference and will the kids even notice a difference if you did switch to bags?

If the tradition of a child opening a wrapped gift is really important to you, then perhaps you do continue to wrap their gifts, but you can still swap out the adult’s paper wrappings for bags. Any amount of change can have an impact. It is estimated that “45,000 football fields worth of paper would be saved if every American family wrapped three presents in re-used material” (Visual.ly). According to an infographic found on Creditdonkey.com, the average American wraps fifteen presents per year so three gifts would not be a big change for just one family, however, when that is added all together across the whole population, it is a massive difference.

Another statistic shows that,

Americans spend about 3 hours wrapping gifts each year, with 25% of people expecting to spend more than 4 hours (visual.ly).

Time around the holidays is meant to be spent with family, not with a roll of wrapping paper and some tape. Those three hours could be spent playing in the snow with your kids or just relaxing. If we were willing to put our gifts into gift bags instead, we would likely be able to cut down on the amount of time spent getting gifts ready.

In a scotch tape survey that can be found on Myria.com, you can find statistics that say that “nearly 70 % of Americans say they enjoy wrapping gifts” and that “28% say that it gets them in the holiday spirit”, but aren’t there other ways of getting into the spirit that are less wasteful and even more enjoyable than gift wrapping?

If you are stumped on what these other holiday spirit kick-starters might be, a quick google search can give you a lot of ideas. You can have a holiday movie marathon, and in the four hours that you would normally spend wrapping, you can probably get through two movies. You could spend four hours ice skating although you might be tired after that activity. You could spend four hours baking cookies for you and your friends and family to share and enjoy. While wrapping might be the thing that some people need to get in the spirit, most people can find another activity that is just as enjoyable, if not more so, to get them in the holiday spirit.

Wrapping paper has its obvious perks from kid’s enjoyment to boosting holiday spirit, but your time spent wrapping could be used in other ways, and the financial difference would be minor. A simple switch to another form of gift wrapping can mean a huge decrease in waste if it happens over a portion of the population. It is not a difficult switch, so as you wrap your Christmas gifts this year, consider helping to do your part and start using alternative forms of gift wrapping instead of using wrapping paper.

Photo by Iris Rodriguez

Students Learn about Sexual Assault Awareness and How to Be an Active Bystander

Pillars

By Marcela Ruiz

Morton College has been hosting a series of events regarding sexual assault awareness during this month.
 On April 12th, the Sexual Assault and Bystander intervention workshop took place at the student union at 1:00 p.m. Kevin DeMarce, outreach coordinator for Pillars; was the guest speaker. He began his presentation by showing the video Dear Daddy.
 “I will be born a girl”, the main statement presented in the video indicated that a woman’s biggest danger is her vulnerability.
 DeMarce discussed how sexual assault awareness begins with educating men. He believes point of views and attitudes towards women are formed from childhood. In turn, during teen years these attributes can manifest themselves in either a positive or negative manner.
 “How can we change these messages? Do these attitudes change in college or do they become more discrete?” he asked the audience, referring to how people express about women in a sexual manner.
 A student commented that she believes these types of conversations are taboo in most cultures; which makes it more difficult to prevent the assault or for victims to come forward.
 According to the department of justice 1 of 5 women and one of 16 men are victims of sexual assault while in college.  Surprisingly, 90 percent of these victims do not report the assault. In part, “because they are fearful of their attacker”, said DeMarce. He added that, “Victims may also be ashamed to go to trial and having to deal with people’s perception of them, or feelings of guilt. But the most prevalent reason remains to be the belief that no one is going to do anything anyways.”

“no one is going to do anything anyways.”

DeMarce mentioned that people tend to help when they are alone rather than in a group. To be an active bystander means that if someone presence a comment or abuse he/she: “does not wait for someone else, a person alone has to be the one stepping up”.
Lastly the video “Who Are You?”, was presented to help students visualize when is the possible right time to intervene to prevent sexual assault and how the outcome can be different.
For further questions about Pillars and the available programs, outreach coordinator Kevin DeMarce can be reached at kdemarce@pillarscommunity.org

Open Forum: Knowing the Rights and Needs of Undocumented Students 

20170308_111133By Veronica Fernandez

An open forum was hosted on March 8th in the Student Union that allow the Morton College community to be informed of the rights of undocumented individuals, along with having the opportunity to voice their needs.

Prior to the forum’s start, available to students were an array of documents that included lists of rights written in different languages and lists of immigration attorneys.

First to present in the forum was student trustee, Andrea Chavarria. She guided the audience through a sideshow with information on the recent shift of policies and laws, what can be done if ICE comes to your home, the validity of arrest and search warrants, and constructing a family plan. Students were attentively listening and actively participating by asking questions.

After the informational portion of the forum sociology professor, Benjamin Drury, lead an interactive discussion on the particular needs of undocumented students of Morton College. Here students gathered into groups and discussed the different ways in which undocumented student’s fears and apprehensions could be alleviated when in school. A student suggested that professors discuss and perhaps become knowledgeable about immigration here in the country. Another student suggested that students should take it upon themselves to learn about the topic and to live with caution rather than fear.

As the forum came to a close, professor Drury encouraged participants to “Continue the conversations that you started here today.”

Chicagoans Speak Out for Equal Job Rights for Women as They Celebrate International Women’s Day

20170308_184339By Domingo Xavier Casanova

On March 8th, prestigious speakers and nearly 400 men and women assembled outside the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. They spoke about the importance of women within the workplace and the economy while celebrating International Working Women’s Day.

Workplace inequality between male and females has long been an issue in the world and in the United States. In 2015, full-time American workers who were female only earned 80% of what American men earned, measuring up to be a wage gap of 20% between the two sexes.

Prestigious speakers, from organizers, editors, and activists of differing organizations supporting women’s rights, equality for all, and a global minimum wage, came out to speak in support of International Working Women’s Day.

Zerlina Smith, 29th Ward and Action Now activist, was the most prominent speaker at the event. She spoke about the importance of their battle for the future, as her young daughter and another girl, sat at her feet.

Because we need our legislators to actually write some real policies that will not just affect us now, but will affect these little ladies later on in life.”

Men and women, bracing the windy conditions, spoke out positively about women in the workplace and their importance to the United States economy.They also gave reasons on how equality in the workplace can be achieved. Some suggested that equality can be achieved through changing people’s attitudes, others noted that legislation that support women needs to be promoted and passed, and others suggested simply fighting for it.

Juan-Carlos Parker, a former Morton West graduate who was at the rally supported this final point of view. “When you’re asking for a seat at the table, the people already at the table aren’t usually happy about it.”

Morton College students support women’s equality, in and out of the workplace. Women and men all voiced their support for women, but all acknowledged the long fight ahead for them. A Morton College student, wishing to remain anonymous, said, “I will most likely not see the end of the fight for women’s equality in and out of the workplace.”

But Morton College students also stressed the importance of being one. Eunice Bonilla said she found it encouraging to see men and women, “Band together toward the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.”

The fight for women’s rights, in the workplace and out, will continue to be fought over in the next coming years. And their determination is not lost out to the people, as the 400 men and women ended their protest outside James R. Thompson Center by shouting, “Stand up and fight!” as passing bystanders looked on in curiosity, and some clapped in support.