December is the most wasteful time of the year…but it doesn’t have to be!
The easiest way to get around creating waste during the Holidays is to give ‘non-gifts’, as in, gift an experience or an online subscriptions for example. Something that is not an actual physical object.
On the other hand, if you really can’t do without exchanging a tangible gift, make sure it’s something useful or at least sustainable, which can be used over and over again (find some inspiration in our shop), but at that point…how do you wrap it?
The answer may seem obvious, but if you want to keep your gift eco-friendly and waste free, wrapping paper may not be the best solution!
The problem with wrapping paper
Unfortunately most people think that paper is always the best alternative to plastic, as in their minds paper is always 100% recyclable. Sadly though, this is not the case.
In order to make it more resistant, or aesthetically more pleasing, wrapping paper is in fact often dyed or laminated with non-paper additives such as gold and silver colored shapes, sparkles, glitter, sequins, foil, or even artificial textures. Although the paper was originally recyclable, by the time colors and designs are added, it no longer is, as not all recycling plants are equipped to break down those chemicals and those micro-plastics meaning that that wrapping paper will be put in with general waste.
How about traditional recycled brown paper then, could you use that? Would that be ok? Sure, that would be a great idea…if it wasn’t then covered in pieces of sticky tape (which is plastic), again rendering paper non recyclable.
…Told you ‘Wrapping paper’ wasn’t the most clear-cut answer!
So, what are the alternatives? If you would like to stick to paper, of course opt for recycled brown paper, but ditch the sticky tape and use string instead. That way the paper won’t get contaminated, and the receiver will not only be able to recycle, or better still re-use, the paper, but the string could come in handy too!
Look for hidden treasures in your home!
We all have things laying around our home which merit a second life. Whether it’s reused gift bags or paper grocery bags, an old cloth or even, why not, old newspapers. With a bit of creativity and a bit of plastic-free decorating, anything can be up-cycled or reused and turned into wrapping paper, even cardboard boxes, old containers, empty glass jars, or old maps! All you have to do is start hunting down FREE, eco-friendly alternatives, that are right under your nose!
A gift within a gift
What’s better than one gift? TWO GIFTS of course! Spoil your friends of family members by wrapping your first gift up in a second one, such as a hand-knit scarf or a hand-knitted purse, a beautiful table cloth or runner, a reusable cloth bag, or maybe just a fun t-shirt or a festive tea towel! If you want to go that extra mile, you could even learn the art of Furoshiki, a method of folding cloth into beautiful packages!
Another ‘gift with a gift’ solution would be putting one gift into a vase, a biscuit tin, or maybe a bucket-like item (for example a pot, a watering can, a picnic basket) that is inspired by their hobbies, or that could otherwise be useful around the house.
As we said earlier anything could substitute wrapping paper, and anything can be made festive with just a little creativity and effort.
If you end up using old waste paper or old cloths and would like to make them a bit more Christmas themed, you could paint them, or customize them by writing fun messages.
If you decide for the ‘Gift within a gift’ idea, then you could always choose to tie homemade cookies or treats to your package, or simply make it festive by adding pinecones, holly, a dried orange slice or maybe cinnamon sticks.
Christmas, especially this year, should be about appreciating what we have, being grateful and spending times with those we love. Let’s not turn this special time into a waste-fest, by gifting wrapping paper that will last a mere seconds, before being thrown away and ending up in a landfill.
Let your friends know why their gift isn’t wrapped up traditionally and spread the word about the misconceptions surrounding shiny, glittery, wrapping paper, and also about the dangers of sticky tape on otherwise perfectly recyclable brown paper.
Motivate them to go waste free, and if you’ve wrapped their gift in an old cloth or in something that could be re-used again, please encourage them to take advantage of it by giving it another life. If they don’t seem interested, then simply ask that they keep it aside and give it back to you. Why not, you could even start a tradition of each year wrapping up their gifts in the same exact fabric!