We hear a lot about the amount of waste that’s generated around Christmas, with one of the biggest problems being the vast amounts of wrapping paper that ends up straight in the trash. During the festive period, enough wrapping paper is thrown away to go around the equator more than nine times..! This is pretty extraordinary when you consider the amount of energy and effort that goes into making something that will only serve its purpose for a fleeting moment.
The timeless ritual of giving gifts and wrapping them up however, is never going out of fashion any time soon. So how do we find ways of maintaining the excitement of present opening, without all the waste? In this post, I explore some of the green alternatives available. But these eco gift wrapping ideas aren’t just a little more earth friendly, they’ll also look magical under the Christmas tree… Image above via Wrappily.
RECYCLED AND RECYCLABLE
After presents are opened, you might instinctively think to put all that wrapping paper straight in the recycling bin. Gift wrap that is paper-based is fine to recycle, but others have a plastic or metallic coated finish and cannot be recycled. There are also different regulations for recycling wrapping paper depending on your local authority, so it’s worth checking their website to find out specific protocol.
The good news is there are some beautiful examples of recyclable gift wrap out there. One company is US-based Wrappily who print on newsprint (which can be recycled up to 7 times) on a local newspaper press, using soy based inks. They also make eco-friendly recyclable ribbon made with water-soluble dyes and is completely compostable.
Blank Inside is another beautiful collection of stationery, notebooks and homewares designed by the very talented illustrator, Liz Temperley. Her wrapping paper is made from 100% recycled paper using vegetable oil based inks. The Jumping Fox design pictured above costs £2.25 per sheet and matching gift tags are available. So beautiful, you’ll want to reuse it over and over again.
Fishlips are manufacturers of paper and fabric. They also print on recycled paper and claim that their soy based inks emit 82% less VOCs than their petroleum-based counterparts. They also say that if 1% of the US population wrapped one gift each year in their recycled gift wrap (instead of those made from virgin materials) the following would be saved:
- 2,029 fully grown trees 🌳
- 926k gallons of water 💦
- 826 million BTU’s of energy 🔥
- 58k lbs of solid waste 🗑
- 205k lbs of greenhouse gases 🌎
RECLAIMED PAPER BAGS
Inspired by Indian newspaper carrier bags, UK-based Paper Relay creates artfully handcrafted gift bags from upcycled paper salvaged from unwanted books, newspapers and magazines, diverting them from the waste stream.The handles are also made from rolled recycled paper.
Current collections include vintage The New Yorker magazine covers, old photos of the royal family and a fabulous range called funky chickens. Every bag is of course one-of-a-kind. To purchase, contact Danae Marshall.
And check out this video to see a close up view of the making process:
CHRISTMAS CARD TAGS
Making gift tags from last year’s Christmas cards is a really easy reuse project. Cut them into squares or rectangles or use a craft punch such as this circular one by Woodware. I picked out Martha Stewart’s monogram tag tutorial however, as I think this gives a neat modern look to gifts, whilst creating a personal touch. It’ll also make it much easier for recipients to spot their gifts under the Christmas tree! Photo by Sang An.
FUROSHIKI FABRIC CLOTH
Deemed ‘so easy even a man can do it‘ by Manmade DIY although I’m not sure either gender will get this one right first time around…
Furoshiki originates from ancient Japanese culture. It’s the name given to a wrapping cloth used to transport gifts and other items, but literally translates as ‘bath spread’. This is because historically the method was used in public baths to bundle clothes together.
In the same vein as origami, the practice involves using a single piece of square-shaped cloth, which is then folded and tied in specific configurations, usually resulting in a decorative bow on the top. The technique continues to be used for gift wrapping or carrying grocery shopping. So reusable and so multipurpose.
BOBO wrapping scarves (made in the USA) are based on the furoshiki method and come in a huge range of colours. The Japanese Shop also have some beautiful designs to choose from. However, you could use pretty much any kind of fabric for this, so for affordable alternatives, search for pretty scarves or fabric napkins in charity shops and thrift stores – you’ll be also be reusing on more levels than one!
Ending up with something that’s both securely wrapped and aesthetically pleasing will probably take some practice. Below is a video from Live Green to help you get started:
And if the tying element of Furoshiki seems far too taxing, an alternative fabric gift wrap brand is WragWrap. The gift wrap has a cord and button system which helps to keeps everything in place. I particularly like the sound of the crackle wrap range, which makes a satisfying crackling sound every time you pick it up.
REUSABLE GIFT BAGS
If folding, tying… and really just gift wrapping in general is not your thing, what could be easier than a drawstring fabric bag? Sew and Tell Handmade has some great designs to choose from. If the gift is going to a friend, they can either regift it to someone else, or keep it for another purpose. They can also be continually reused at home for family birthdays or Christmases.
EMBELLISHED MAGAZINE PAGES
This is a great example of how eco gift wrapping can actually save you money. Erin Boyle from the beautiful blog Reading My Tea Leaves decided to use up an old copy of The New Yorker to wrap up her Christmas gifts. She suggests using magazine paper over newspaper, as there’s no danger of the ink rubbing off onto the gifts and you have perfectly straight edges to work with. She suggests sticking the pages together to make larger sheets and adds silver string and red berries for a festive touch. You can read the full post here.
You can buy these fabulous recycled bows readymade from Etsy seller PopularDesigns, but I thought this looked like quite a fun (and achievable) DIY project to try at home. According to Handimania, it requires little patience or skill and it seems like it would be quite relaxing once you get the hang of it.
Here is yet another a video that shows you how to do it:
PLANTABLE GIFT WRAP
Gift wrap by Blooming Plantables enables you to give two gifts in one. The recycled paper contains seeds which means after the gift is opened, the paper can be planted in the garden and will eventually grow into beautiful flowers.
Made in the USA, each sheet contains 2,600 non-GMO flower seeds which will bring butterflies and pollinators to your garden. Available to buy from Reuseit in 5 designs (Aloe pictured).
I also found a company doing this in the UK called Eden’s Paper which grows into vegetables such as broccoli, onions, chillies, carrots and tomatoes. They’re designs are all vegetable themed and you can purchase via Not on the High Street.
SECOND LIFE FOR GIFT WRAP?
Open your presents gently and it’ll stay in a good enough state to reuse for future gift giving! Although there are lots of ideas online for reusing gift wrap to create home accents, some of them are more durable than others. One idea that appealed to me is using gift wrap to decorate cardboard storage boxes, or even shoes boxes. Take inspiration from Amy who has the most beautiful DIY and design blog Homey Oh My. Amongst her excellent DIY tutorials, she created these stylish boxes for her home office using a minimalist grid style gift wrap. Find out how she did it here.
Do you have any more eco gift wrapping ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Happy wrapping! 🎁
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