I love wrapping gifts, so I always struggle with the environmental impact of it. I do things like reuse some types of wrapping paper year after year – we had some metallic paper that worked really well for this, use cloth bags that someone made me, use regular gift bags. But these are all pretty standard. It got me thinking what are some other ways that you can wrap gifts in a sustainable way.
- I gave my husband a bunch of t-shirts one year – I wrapped each of his presents in a shirt. I’m thinking you could do this if you were giving people socks as well, wrap small presents in them.
- Scarves and tea towels could also be used in the same way.
- What about hiding the gift somewhere in the house and creating a puzzle that they have to put together, or solve to find their gift?
- Use pages from an old, worn out book or an old piece of music.
- Wrap it up in an old map.
- Perhaps you could decorate a box with old and broken CDs or records.
- Make small boxes out of old Christmas cards or cover bigger boxes with pictures from Christmas cards.
- Do you have any old photos that are stored away in a box somewhere? They may not have been worth putting them on display but perhaps they can be repurposed to cover some plain wrapping.
- Reuse ribbon and bows for multiple years.
- Avoid cards with glossy, shiny, or gold foil coatings – they can’t be recycled.
There are also the gifts of something to do like a play or a concert which reduce wrapping waste and make sure that the receiver doesn’t need to store a less than useful gift. Gift cards work the same.
And if you really want to get that wrapping paper look for recycled paper and vegetable based ink. And then make sure you measure so that you only use the paper that is necessary.
By the numbers:
- In Canada, waste from gift wrap and shopping bags equals 545,000 tonnes per year.
- If everyone in Canada wrapped 3 gifts in reused paper or gift bags it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 ice rinks.
- If every family in Canada reduced their waste by just 1 kg a week during the holidays it would eliminate 34,000 tonnes of waste.
Keep in mind that Reuse should be the first R before Recycle. Recycling still requires energy and resources.