Gift Wrapping: Some Sustainable Alternatives

gift boxesYou’ve probably done most of your shopping and the time has come to wrap everything up. Why not try to reduce the amount of paper you use this year? After all, you’re just going to have to dispose of it!!

Roughly half of the paper used in a whole year in America is for wrapping and decorating consumer products (Source: The Recycler’s Handbook, 1990). If everyone wrapped just three gifts in re-used paper or re-usable wrapping such as gift bags, it would reduce our paper consumption by tens of thousands of tonnes.

We can all start with three gifts this Christmas. The positive reaction will help us to up the ante next year.

Choose re-usable gift wrap –
Cloth bags can be beautiful and useful to the person you’re gifting. You can buy cloth bags that are specially designed with a seasonal motif, buy plain ones and decorate them yourself with paints, stamps, badges or transfers. A local shop that you regularly frequent might even be willing to give you a few of their promotional bags – after all it will help them spread the word about their business.
Boxes in any material can be used time and again. Line them with a lovely fabric, or top them with a beautiful bow.
Glass jars are very effective if your gift will show beautifully through them! They are also ideal for any perishable or delicate items. Top with fabric and a ribbon.
Fabric wrapping is beautiful. You can tie corners together, stitch or pin the fabric or simply use ribbon to tie together. The wrapping can be part of the present with a brooch being used to secure the gift, a scarf used for the wrapping, or swatches joined together for someone who sews. If you are especially crafty, you could sew your own gift bags with fabric scraps.
A furoshiki is a type of cloth used in Japan for wrapping gifts. They were traditionally used to bundle clothes while at the baths. They are generally decorated with traditional Japanese designs. You can find techniques for wrapping here.


Re-cycle –
Hold on to your used wrapping paper (top tip: avoid tape as much as possible as it can damage paper. Secure with ribbon instead). Old wrapping paper can be re-used to wrap presents for someone else and can be given new life with trimmings, or by decorating the paper with stamps, stencils or stickers.
Use other papers to wrap. Old comics, newspapers, magazines, posters and maps make excellent wrapping and can be coordinated with the gift, the person the gift is for or the season. Picture books can be cut up and used to wrap, or use drawings and paintings done by the kids for family members. You can’t hang every one of their masterpieces, after all.

Need to buy wrapping paper?
Choose more environmentally friendly paper. You can find paper that is made from fibres such as hemp or that is made from recycled or partially recycled content. Avoid glossy foil or metallic papers as these types of paper are hard to recycle and have no value as mulch due to the metal content. It also crinkles, making it harder to re-use.

So, let’s all commit to our three presents and save a few thousand tonnes of paper for 2013.




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