4 easy ways to make your gift wrap more sustainable (and fun!)
I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that could use a little gift wrap guidance. In our house, I’m notorious for spending weeks before birthdays, showers or holidays thinking of the perfect gift, only to drop the ball at the last moment when it comes to wrapping. Minutes before we need to head out the door to a wedding, I can be found rummaging through closets looking for cute wrapping paper to match the occasion, only to discover that all we have are crumpled scraps left over from a recent baby shower. Just last weekend, I had to stop at a corner store and wrap a gift in the passenger seat of the car while stuck in traffic on the way to my niece’s birthday party. It’s bad.
The irony is that I’m normally a detail person. I enjoy when things look nice. I like bringing a creatively wrapped gift to a shower and proudly adding it to the pile, or seeing a friend’s eyes light up in anticipation as they untie ribbon on a crisply wrapped package for their birthday.
Ultimately, I think the issue is that I have a real problem with wrapping paper itself. It pains me to see all the effort people put into wrapping, only to have it all carted out to the trash the next day. The beauty is short-lived, it is wasteful, and it is harmful to the environment. According to the EPA, each year Americans produce 4 million tons of trash from gift wrap and shopping bags alone. I never have wrapping paper on hand because I always want to make more eco-friendly choices, but then I never leave myself time to wrap gifts in a better way. Sometimes, we end up contributing to the waste we try so hard to avoid by not properly preparing. Starting today, I plan on changing my ways. If we plan ahead and get creative, we can all give thoughtful gifts without adding to our ever-growing landfills.
Here are 4 easy and beautiful ways to wrap gifts more sustainably:
Furoshiki Fabric Wrapping
When we think of gifts, we automatically think of wrapping them with paper. But what if we think beyond the roll, and wrap with fabric? The Japanese have been using furoshiki, the art of wrapping with fabric, for centuries. For those of us who have never considered anything but paper, this may come as a surprise, but using fabric is a great way to tastefully hide even the most awkwardly shaped gift from view.
Vibrant swatches of repurposed saris from Bangladesh tied neatly around a box or bottle will catch eyes at any party. And the best part is, the colorful pieces can be reused again and again to wrap more gifts, made into headbands, used as a placemat, an accent piece, or even sewn into a quilt. Having a few squares of Celebration Sari Gift Wrap on hand will keep you from getting flustered at the last minute. Click here to find out how to easily wrap with fabric.
An effortless way to have sustainable wrapping paper on hand at all times is to hold on to old newspapers. Turning yesterday’s news into unique gift wrap is easy and the results are much more beautiful than you might think. You could take the country-rustic approach and wrap the gift in classic black and white pages, tie it up with jute twine and accent it with a sprig of rosemary or some holly and berries at Christmastime. You could also go for the pop art look by using the bright comics section as the wrapping paper, and add conversation bubbles cut out of construction paper for the gift tag. And the best part? Newspaper is recyclable in most communities, unlike the traditional glossy wrapping paper and gift bags you find in stores.
These are the perfect eco-friendly wrapping solution for your adventurous friends. All those road atlases that have been forgotten in your back seat or the hiking trail maps still stuck in your backpack can be put to use. Pair them with some string… and voila! You have a beautifully (and sustainably) wrapped gift for the one on your list with wanderlust.
Make Your Own
There are times when you need to wrap a gift without much warning, and those are the times when it’s easiest to just panic and grab a gift bag from your local store. Avoid the inevitable last-minute rush by having an eco-friendly roll at the ready! With a little bit of creativity, a few potatoes, and a roll of recycled kraft paper, it’s surprisingly easy (and fun) to make your own wrapping paper at home. Here’s how:
Make a potato stamp! Slice a potato in half. Be sure that the newly cut edge is flat and smooth, and then carve a simple design into it with a paring knife. (For those of us who don’t have time to turn produce into art, using rubber stamps found at any craft store works just as well.)
Unroll your kraft paper and make sure to keep it flat with some paperweights or stones. Use a paint brush to spread ink or paint on the potato’s design and start stamping! This part is perfect time to get the kids involved.
When the paint is dry, roll it back up and save it for later. You now have a one-of-a-kind roll of recycled gift wrap on hand for the next time you need it!
Wrapping your gifts in a sustainable way is easier, and more beautiful, than you think, and there are hundreds of different ways to do it! Here are five bonus ways:
Reuse bags, bows, and ribbon:
This is possibly the easiest way of all! And it’s free!
Skip gift wrap entirely:
Tiny treasures deserve sweet sari pouches, and presents with multiple pieces are more easily contained in handmade baskets. Jars, tins and even mugs make for a beautiful presentation.
Turn cards into tags:
Save your cards and cut them into gift tags.
If you live near a coffee house that roasts, ask if they have any coffee sacks that need a new home. Burlap makes beautiful, rustic gift wrap!
Cereal boxes make great gift bags! Just cut off the top flaps and add some ribbon for handles, and presto! A sturdy gift bag perfect for kids.