Wrapping Alternatives for a More Sustainable Holiday

Ah, the holidays. Snow, twinkle lights, and the wonderful tradition of giving gifts to those nearest and dearest to you. We love a perfectly picked item or a handmade article as much as the rest but we don’t love all of the waste that the holiday season seems to bring (about 1 million extra tons of garbage a week!)

Although there are many ways to shop more sustainable this holiday season (think gifting items that last versus the latest fad), we want to focus specifically on the wrapping paper. It seems that a gift is not complete until it’s wrapped in shiny paper adorned with snowmen, secured with a velvet bow, and placed, sparkling, under the tree. We’re here to argue that you can make an even bigger impact by going sustainable. 

“Okay, so how can I create less waste this year?” 
Great question!

Reuse Old Wrapping Paper
While perhaps not the most glamorous of options, reusing old wrapping paper makes sure that the paper that would have been wasted last year gets another lease on life. Just think of how much less paper would be thrown into landfills – or better yet, we can tell you!  If everyone in America used old wrapping paper to wrap their gifts this year, we’d save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! That certainly has us convinced. The downside of this is inevitably paper does degrade, and you can only reuse paper so many times, but reusing is better than giving up and throwing it away!
However, if you do receive gifts this year wrapped in shiny paper, make sure to unwrap them as carefully as you can, and set them aside for next year. You can even save the bow and reuse that too! 

DIY Wrapping Paper
Butcher paper, old magazines, newspaper. What do these all have in common? They make wonderful DIY wrapping paper! For smaller items like jewelry, magazines make a perfectly sized piece of paper. For larger items, opt for newspaper or even doodle all over some butcher paper and create the most unique gift wrap ever! These papers can all be recycled, so make sure your recipient knows to toss it in the blue bin when they’re done.

Furoshiki Style Fabric Wrap
People in Japan have been doing it for centuries, and this year so can you! There are so many beautiful ways to wrap a piece of fabric around an item. Fabric is a wonderful alternative to paper in so many ways. First, it’s much more durable than paper. Second, it has patterns that are just as fun (if not more so) than your average wrapping paper. Third, you can use, reuse, and reuse, and reuse fabric. If you’re gifting to someone crafty, they might repurpose it and use it for something that will last for years to come! For something smaller (like a book) the easiest way to start is to purchase a fat quarter from your local fabric store. Ideally, you’d want your wrap to be square, but there are so many variations that you’re sure to find one that makes your recipient say “WOW!”

Other Ways to a More Sustainable Holiday

  • Decorate with natural decor: Use holly, or leaf sprigs to jazz up your gift instead of unrecyclable bows and trinkets.
  • Gift an experience instead of an item:  Purchase a class, movie, trip, or even offer to cover a year of Netflix!
  • Reuse old holiday cards: Cut off the fronts of past cards and use them as holiday postcards the next year! 
  • Don’t forget your reusable shopping bag: Stores LOVE to give you shopping bags – it’s free promotion after all. But it’s okay to ask for no bag and use your own instead!
  • Recycle your Christmas tree: See if your local community has a Christmas tree pickup day. Instead of going to landfills, your tree will be turned to mulch and used to nourish the land it came from!

We hope we’ve given you enough ideas so you enjoy a more sustainable holiday this year. Remember, if we all work together towards sustainability, our individual small steps can make a big impact on the health of our planet!

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Written by: Allison N.

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