Every year millions of pounds of gift wrap serve their purpose for a few hours, before being ripped up and tossed in the trash. Maybe you think so what? It’s paper.
Paper’s recyclable. The problem is that a lot of modern gift wrapping isn’t recyclable, and let’s not forget the thousands of miles of sticky tape attached to it. Get creative with alternative gift wrapping for eco-friendly special occasions.
The ideal way to present a gift is in something that can be recycled easily or reused. For small gifts home-made paper is a beautiful and green alternative to the mass produced kind, and the quality adds to the appeal of the finished product. Because it’s not full of chemicals it’s perfect for the compost bin.
We all have bits and pieces lying around. Using attractive boxes as gift containers is a great idea because they can be reused in the home – or if they’re really attractive, you can even display them. Cardboard and even plywood boxes are useful alternatives to commercial gift wrap. Buy them plain and you can decorate them yourself for a charming personalized touch, with paint or decoupage techniques.
If you’re good with your hands there are other substitutes for paper wrap. Little fabric drawstring bags are really easy to make, or you could even knit something. It’s a way of using left over material, or even recycling old clothes. If it’s an organic fiber it can also be recycled in the compost bin.
Sometimes wrapping paper is unavoidable, so if you have to use it, make sure you can recycle it. Avoid plasticised and metallic paper that’s not recyclable or compostable at home. Even better, use paper gift wrap that’s reusable. Paper gift bags are usually quite sturdy, which makes them ideal for re-use. Just don’t seal them with that sticky tape, which is made from non-renewable resources. You can get eco-friendly sticky tape, or if it’s not available at least use one that’s easily removed to permit recycling.
Of course you don’t have to use sticky tape at all. Pretty ribbons and attractive string made from natural materials are a creative and more imaginative alternative. Gift tags are another potentially non-green alternative. Try making your own gift wrap by printing or stencilling on plain paper. You can make the recipient’s name and your message part of the design. There’s a fun gift tag option on the market. Tags of home-pressed paper with seeds included can simply be buried in the garden to turn into flowers. That’s two gifts in one.
A bit of sideways smart thinking goes a long way with green gift wrapping. If you’re using paper, buy it on a roll so you can cut it to exact size. If you buy individual sheets, the temptation is to use a sheet per gift, with a lot of potential waste involved. Going green means making the most of what you have, before and after the special occasion.