This holiday season, we’re here to help you have a more Eco-Friendly holiday! We’ve showed you Christmas tree alternatives and gifts that give back, and now we’re going to help you wrap those gifts without wrapping paper! There’s no need to buy brand new rolls of expensive, decorative paper that usually ends up in the trash, when you can conceal your gifts with pretty alternatives. Wrapping paper accounts for a lot of waste! According to TreeHugger.com, 5 million tons of additional waste is generated during the holidays. 4 million of that is wrapping paper and shopping bags. “If we assume that half of the four million is wrapping paper then we have an estimated 2 million tons of wrapping paper used over the holidays each year in the US alone.” That adds up to approximately 30 million trees!
Some wrapping paper is recyclable (as long as in doesn’t contain any metallic elements) and if it wasn’t completely torn to shreds, some is reusable, but why go to all that hassle when you can easily wrap gifts with some simple eco-alternatives.
Think inside the bag: Gift Bags
The easiest switch to make is from wrapping paper to gift bags. They’re more likely to be reused than paper and are multi-functional. Jazz up old gift to turn them into more festive gift bags by adding ribbons or stamping or drawing on the outside. Use shredded magazine or newspaper pages as filler. If you want to use tissue paper, look for a kind that is made from recyclable paper and is recyclable afterwards. Want to go one step further? Purchase reusable gifts bags, like these found on RealSimple.com. Your gift is wrapped with care and the receiver will want to keep the pretty bag too. You can easily add a personal touch to a gift bag with a photo strip bow.
Skip wrapping paper all together: Functional Containers
Check your basement or local thrift store for a wide array of containers perfect for storing gifts. Old baskets, vases, or decorative boxes can hide presents that the gift giver can use long after unwrapping. A pashmina or scarf is also a great way to hide a present and make the wrapping part of the gift as well. Another idea we love? Pick a thematic gift, like kitchen accessories, and stash all the presents inside something that relates, like an oven mitt. Giving gift cards to your favorite Chinese restaurant? Stash them inside a clean, take out box with some fortune cookies. Use your imagination; the possibilities are endless.
Find unique materials: Upcycle
Chance are, if you look around your house you can find a plethora of materials to wrap your gifts with. You don’t even have to buy recycled paper! Wrap gifts with old magazine pages, old school paper maps you no longer use, desktop calendar pages, newspaper, or anything else laying around. The comics from the newspaper make colorful, fun wrapping, while black and white magazine pages provide a neutral background for adding embellishments. When it comes to ribbon, save little pieces in a box or bag that you receive all year. If you have to purchase, look for natural raffia. It’s made from mulberry tree bark which regenerates, so no trees are cut down to produce it. You can also look for objects to adorn your boxes. Top packages with fallen leaves, pine cones, or tree scraps. Most big box stores that sell trees give away fallen pine branches for free, so stop by your local Home Depot and grab a few.
Tag it with recyclables: Gift Tags
Of course you’ll have to know the intended recipient of your gifts, and it’s easy to create upcycled, recycled, and green present markers. Scrap paper is great for making tags, but you can also use old paint chips, lids from recycled pasta jars, wine corks, or felt and fabric scraps. Mason Jar lids make great toppers too, check out this tutorial from S.C.R.A.P. (shown above) here. A toothpick with a scrap paper flag attached is another easy to execute idea: assign each person a different color. You can even make the tag part of the gift by attaching a luggage tag or monogrammed bookmark.
Don’t have time to scour your house and town for materials? If you are purchasing paper, make sure it says “post-consumer recycled,” which means the material has served its intended use and has been recovered from waste destined for disposal and recycled. Check out GreenRaising.com for 100% recycled gift wrap where a portion of the profits go to a school or non-profit of your choice or BuyGreen.com which makes recycled paper with soy inks.
How will you be wrapping your presents this year?
Photos from Pinterest, Real Simple, HGTV, Older and Wiser, Top Dog Boutique