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Pretty papers are attractive, but using Christmas gift wrap once and throwing it away is not eco-friendly. Try these green alternatives to wrapping paper.
Stores are filled with Christmas gift wrap paper: Shiny, pretty papers block the aisles and are stacked up at checkout counters in supermarkets, drug stores, stationery stores, and virtually every other shop that sells small gifts and notions. ‘Tis the season to fill the landfills.
Wrapping paper is such a big part of gift-giving that we don’t even think twice about the irony of buying beautifully made papers that will be used to make a five-second impression, only to be torn off and thrown away. Coated and painted with metallics, gift wrap ends up in landfills. What a message to send to children!
Here are some green alternatives that will make special and clever Christmas wrappings, and reduce your holiday carbon footprint.
Wrapping Gifts with Newspapers and Magazines
Using pages from newspapers or magazines to wrap gifts can look smart and crisp, especially if you take a few moments to select a page with lots of bright colors. Or take the time to select a page that has something to do with the gift itself, such as a book review of the book you are wrapping, or a page from the finance section to wrap a wallet.
Newspaper works especially well on books and similarly shaped packages. It’s not such a good choice for irregularly shaped gifts.
Baskets, Gift Bags, and Gift Boxes
Gift baskets make wonderful holiday presentations, with contents especially chosen for the recipient. You can “hide” the gifts in the basket by wrapping them in a newspaper or burying them in tissue paper. Choose a high-quality basket that the recipient will enjoy reusing throughout the year.
Gift Bags are another solution:
More and more gifts are presented in attractive little holiday bags, which are easily reusable. Indeed, while most people don’t even think twice about rumpling up beautiful wrapping papers and tossing them, they carefully keep the gift bags.
Just be sure you store them neatly so they are in good condition for reuse. Or, your children can use them next year to make Christmas arts and crafts.
Gift Boxes are an increasingly popular variation of gift bags. These cardboard boxes can come in shapes ranging from tubes for posters to boxes usable for clothing. They are sometimes given out at high-end stores.
The store’s logo is sometimes on the box somewhere, so the store gets a bit of branding benefit (and they reduce staffing needs in a department store’s gift-wrap department). The boxes are usually festive and attractive and don’t need to be wrapped. Boxes can also be bought at stationery stores.
Creative Gift Wrap: Using Scarves and Fabric
In Japan, silk scarves are sometimes used to wrap special gifts. There’s no reason you can’t do the same.
If you happen to travel a lot, note that scarves can be bought for as little as a couple of dollars in many developing countries, especially in Asia and the Middle East. So your gift includes not only wearable wrapping paper but a souvenir from a far-off land.
Along the same lines, if you happen to sew, you probably have a collection of gift-wrap-sized fabric scraps that you’ve never found a use for. Now you have a way to use them!
Reusing and Recycling Gift Wraps
With your holiday supplies, keep a Christmas scrap box of small bits of old or odd-sized wrapping papers that will be good for wrapping little items such as jewelry, wallets, or ties. Bows and trimmings can also be reused if they are in good condition.
Good quality gift wrap can also be reused. The cheap metallic paper probably won’t survive in good enough condition, but thicker papers that were carefully folded can be used more than once.
Finally, if you feel you simply must use a newspaper for a special gift, be sure it is made of post-consumer recycled paper, and that it can be recycled. At least that way, you’re doing your part to reduce Christmas waste and keep the holidays from making too much of a contribution to the town dump.