Monday, December 8, 2014

A Green Christmas, Part 4: Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap

The amount of trash produced during the holidays really hits home after all the presents have been opened... and opened again out of their manufacturer's packaging. Some of this packaging is unavoidable but the countless black garbage bags of wrapping paper going to curb is a huge waste that can be completely (and easily!) rectified. Almost all of the wrapping paper sold in stores cannot be recycled. The same goes for all the ribbons, bows and name tags that are the precursor of excitement before the actual ripping frenzy begins. Switching to reusable and recyclable wrapping options will do wonders in cutting down your waste output this Christmas. And if you use items that you already have around the house, you can save all the money dumped on holiday-themed wrapping paper and put it towards the gifts instead (or maybe towards a local, pastured ham for the dinner table!).

Gift Tags

Yogi Tea is a national brand that can be found in most grocery stores, as well as lining my pantry shelves as I have been drinking this tea for years. However, it wasn't until I read I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas, by Anna Getty, that I realised the inside of the boxes have the coolest lotus designs that can be used as name tags. (Yogi Tea has a recipe for everything health-wise but apparently not for observational acuity.) The beautiful design not only adds a unique finishing touch to your wrapped presents but it is also 100% recycable- and that's something we all can observe.


Making your own bows from colorful sales ads is so incredibly simple (and frugal!).

                                          Start by cutting the ad into long strips 1-inch wide.

Lay the strips down like an asterisk on the wrapped present, taping down the center of the strips as you go. Depending on how full you want the bow, add as many or as few strips as you want. Make sure to leave 2 - 3 extra strips to finish the bow at the end of the process.

Taking both ends of the same strip, loop towards the middle and tape down in the center. Continue to do this with all the remaining strips.

Use the extra strips to fill in the middle by making loops and taping down both ends. Now you have a nice big, fun bow that took 3 minutes to make and cost nothing. Oh, it's recycable, too!

Alternative Wrapping Paper

Kraft paper makes excellent recycable wrapping paper for any occasion. Use stamps or markers to make it more festive. I found a box of Christmas stamps on Bookoo for $5 that will be put to good use.

Using old music sheets from the thrift store is a sure way to add some unexpected whimsy under your tree (bonus if you can find holiday music!). The large book of classic music that I found cost ninty-nine cents and will cover its share of gifts. Old encyclopedias also would make a fun wrap. The ribbon is from that big Costco roll mentioned here, and with using just a simple Christmas stamp, this thrift store find can turn into an elegant present without the cost of traditional wrappings.

The comics have long been used for wrapping paper but sometimes you can find colorful, fun articles like in the photo above as well. Know someone who loves cross-word puzzles? Use that section to wrap their gift! I usually get my news online to cut down on paper waste but with this one newspaper I bought, it provided this craft and a treasure trove of wrapping paper and bow options.

Reusable Wrap

Recycling, though much preferable to trash, still has its own environmental impact. That's why it is a good idea to play around with reusable wrapping options, too. Above is a Chicco reusable shopping bag. Use the handles to tie a bow on top and then fold and pin any excess underneath. Not only is this a great way to wrap those awkwardly-shaped presents but hopefully it will inspire the receiver to use less plastic bags on their future shopping trips!

If you are handy with a needle or thread, a quick Google search will yield a ton of fabric gift bags that you can make yourself. If you have been following this blog for any length of time then you know that I most certainly am not handy with anything resembling a needle but this is where supporting small business can really help out. Etsy is a great place to shop for eco-friendly gift wrap. One of my personal Etzy favorites is a shop called Sue Made It that you can check out here. Neither this blog or myself is receiving any monetary benefit from this promotion- I just think this lady is super talented and I love her stuff!

Sue makes all kinds of handmade treasures, and in the case of her bags, from upcycled materials. The bags that she creates are one-of-a-kind finds that are just as much the gift as what they are housing inside.

From Sue Made It: Poinsetta Gift Bag. At $6 this is a very affordable reusable option.

From Sue Made It: Wide bottom bag for the extra-wide gifts.

From Sue Made It: Perfect for all those pre-teens and teens in your life who only want gift cards. (If you have the option of a gift certificate- go with the paper and cut down on the plastic!)

Sue also provides customization services as well. If you have something in mind and don't see it on her site, she is more than happy to work with you. Below is the jewerly that she created for me after I handed her two small pieces of beach glass and asked for earrings.

I adore these earrings not only because they are beautiful but because they are made with mementos from our family vacation this year. So whether it is eco-friendly bags or a custom treasure, you are in goods hands with Sue!

Holidays are about friends, family and good food- and presents, too (I mean, who are we kidding, right!). However, all that joy and warmth doesn't have to be synonymous with trashing our planet.  So when Christmas morning comes around, hopefully you'll have a blue recycle bin by the tree instead of that big black garbage bag... and the peace and good-will of the day can carry over into a brighter and healthy world tomorrow.

This series has been a blast for me as I love learning and doing new things. It has been eight fun and wonderful months since I started this blog and I want to thank everyone who has been on this journey with me. I will be taking the next few weeks off to spend with my family and to refresh and renew for a new year of healthy, safe and budget-friendly posts.

Wishing everyone a safe and very happy holiday season!!

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