Have you ever wondered what happens to all the wrapping paper we use around Christmas? Lately I have been trying to be a little more conscientious about my carbon footprint, and last night I came across a statistic that knocked my socks off! Did you know that we Americans spend more than 7 billion dollars on wrapping paper each year, and about half of all the paper that we consume in the U.S is in the form of wrapping paper and other decorative items? Think about it, all that nice expensive paper that we buy and wrap around presents with such love, torn off and relegated to the trash within minutes of receiving the gift!
This year, give a Christmas gift to the environment by using one of the following eco-friendly and super cute gift wrapping options, which are also a hundred times cooler than regular wrapping paper.
1. Handpainted tote bags
Cotton and canvas tote bags are all the rage these days. You can use fabric paint and transform a cheap yet functional tote bag into a customized piece to wrap your present. The best part is that even after the gift is unwrapped, this eco-friendly wrapping (tote bag) can be used and reused.
2. Unconventional Paper
You can save many sorts of paper to use as wrapping paper later on. Save brown paper bags from stores, interesting newspaper, magazine pages, and even plain printed white paper you would otherwise recycle.
- Julie Andrews was on to something when she proclaimed that “brown paper packages tied up with string” were one of her “favourite things.” Cut up large brown paper bags into sheets. You can keep them flat under a mattress and use later to wrap your gifts. Gifts wrapped in simple brown packaging accented with a little colourful bow or natural jute or twine are both classy and eco-friendly.
- If you have young children I am sure there is more than enough artwork gracing your fridge and then some. Using your kids art work to wrap gifts is a unique and fun way to use up all the artwork they create. This is an especially popular wrapping material for presents intended for grandparents and aunts.
- Newspapers are also a great substitute for gift wrap. You can use the comics section for a colourful twist or the plain black and white pages. I personally prefer the plain printed newspaper with no colour or ads as they give the classiest finished look.
If you save plain cloth, scarves, towels, or clothes that you have outgrown, and cut out fabric from those, you can wrap presents with them! Cloth is especially handy when it comes to wrapping those oddly shaped gifts. The Japanese have been using cloth to wrap gifts for centuries and have perfected it into an art form. The technique is still really popular in Japan and is called Furoshiki—the Japanese art of fabric gift wrapping.
4. Bottles and other Containers
Glass bottles, baby food containers, and even tin cans can be used to pack gifts. Just wash them out and clear the existing labels off them. Then you can paint or decorate them and transform them into special gift packaging. You may even add a handmade label with a little white paper and a little bit of creativity.
You can come up with a million more permutations and combinations of these ideas if you only follow these basic rules:
- Use stuff you already have, which means you shouldn’t buy any gift wrapping supplies unless you absolutely have to. You can find inspiration in the things lying around your house like shopping bags, old boxes etc.
- Save stuff now to reuse later, like yogurt containers and the cardboard from packaging. You can even save scraps of fabric, and a pretty printed page in a magazine. Once you get into the habit of looking at scrap material as potential gift wrap material, the possibilities are endless
- Remember that less is more when wrapping gifts. It is easy to get carried away when using unconventional materials to wrap your gift. You can get carried away thinking that you need to justify your green approach by overcompensating on the decorations. Keep the wrapping simple. Subtle touches go a long way in making your gift look classy.