Monday, December 6, 2010

Wrapping green & gorgeous

Most of the massive amount of extra trash generated during the holidays is due to wrapping paper and packaging. There are so many more sustainable options that are also a delight to behold.
Can't you just recycle the wrapping paper? No, not the vast majority of it. Wrapping paper contains metal, and not just the metalic looking ones. Gift bags as well, are not recyclable unless they are made of regular textured paper. However, some wrapping papers are recyclable- check the underside for the logo or a message indicating so. Our best option is to reuse as much as possible what comes our way or choose to buy more earth friendly wrappings.

Don't be shy to be that "paper saving tree-hugger" at each holiday gathering. You will never have to spend money on wrapping gifts again! People are usually glad that you'll take responsibility for the "mess"!
"Iron" out tissue paper flat with your hand. Sort it by color and fold it up. Save gift bags & boxes that aren't ripped or too worn. Even pieces of wrapping paper are useful, so iron with your hand, fold and save the non-damaged pieces. Ribbons and bows are reusable and useful too. Save old holiday cards as well.
Organize your salvaged treasures well at home. You can save wrappings all year to create a glorious gift-wrapping station. With scissors, tape, glue, glue sticks, and a hole punch you are prepared. You can even find fancy scissors or hole punches to really dress it up.

After wrapping your gift in elegantly and creatively coordinated wrappings. Using The blank part of the back of last year's holiday cards, use a glue stick to adhere a coordinating piece of wrapping paper to cover the inside. Cut it into any shape you wish, punch a hole for hanging, and you have a smart looking tag for your gifts.

The front of the card can be fashioned into a tag for another gift as well. Adding reused ribbons, ornaments, or tying another small gift to the outside dresses up your wrapping.
What if you want to (or need to) start fresh. How can you wrap without doing harm or giving shabby looking gifts?

For paper, choose 100% recycled brown paper, the kind you get for shipping. For bags, use pretty store bags or recycled natural paper. Use newspaper inside. A bit drab? The eco-chic beauty comes in on the finishing touches. Use pine cones cloth ribbons, ornaments, bells, a picture in a frame, a pendant or other beautiful and useful and eye-catching decorations. Seeds, nuts, beans or dried flowers can be glued onto packages or onto a ring cut from a toilet paper roll & fastened on. This can later be composted if not reused. Use hemp or jute twines as well for an earthy elegance.
When wrapping for kids, you can pull out some soy crayons and get to work. Have fun making pictures, patterns, or writing messages of love & joy. Use brighter ribbons and big wooden beads that can be reused. Using the color comics from the newspaper is another great option.
Another less conventional option is to use cloth circles, squares or rectangles of appropriate sizes, to wrap your gifts. Tying it up with twines, ribbons or contrasting strips of material, adding bells, pine cones or other flourishes with result in a unique and sharp-looking gift.

Choose sustainable materials such as hemp, recycled polyester or fleece, or organics. Less expensive options are to buy material at garage sales or thrifT stores. You can use a gift to wrap a gift- kitchen towels, cloth napkins, pillow cases, blankets or folded sheets can be used. Old T-shirts, sweaters, sheets, and other pieces of cloth can be repurposed for wrapping. Funky thrift store specimens can also be washed & cut into wrappings. Cloth is a great way to wrap odd shapes or gift baskets.

Reusable shopping bags can be a very useful way to contain gifts. Look for particularly lovely ones. Use newspaper or recycled packing paper to stuff and cover.
Many newspaper publishers may give away the ends of their rolls for free since they can't use them. Unprinted "newsprint" paper is great for stuffing gift bags, wrapping boxes (wrap with two layers for added durability), or used in shipping. Its also nice for sketching or making patterns!
We have so many options that are much kinder to the earth than the conventional routine trappings. Many of these options are less expensive than purchasing commercial wrappings. Mostly, what is required is just a little extra thought, a few more moments, and the care & creativity you infuse into your gifts as you wrap them with love.

Not only do we do a service to the earth as we wrap with care, but we make even the wrapping a part of the gift. Anyone can buy lots of coventional pizzaz & shine. Enjoying the act of creative & sustainable wrapping manifests another level of love and thoughtfulness, adding something deeper to each gift. The kind of something that is manifested through a little time, love and attention.

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