Are you dreaming of a green Christmas?
According to the Washington Post, 4 million tons of trees are wasted each year to make wrapping paper and holiday shopping bags.
Sparkly and festive holiday wrapping paper might be fun, but is it worth the toll it takes on the environment?
Why Go Paperless?
Paper is biodegradable, right? So how does using wrapping paper affect the environment?
According to Kayla Dunn, the founder of the eco-friendly wedding planning company Pineapple Union, it starts with the trees they have to harvest to create that paper.
“An estimated 30 million trees are cut down just to produce gift wrap, and it’s difficult to recycle due to the dyes used,” says Dunn. Many wrapping papers, like the ones made with foil or plastic, can’t be recycled at all.
Not only does this devastate forests, it also contributes to often-overflowing landfills.
Paper Gift-Wrap Alternatives
It may seem like wrapping paper is the only option to wrap gifts. It may be a common choice, but it isn’t the only option. Here are five alternatives to wrapping paper:
There are several ways you can use fabric to wrap a gift.
First, you can use a scrap piece of cloth, a head scarf or a tea towel. You can wrap these around your gift and tie them in the front, creating a little knot. You could also place your gift in the center of the cloth, gather the extra cloth at the top, and tie it with a string or ribbon. These look cute, and the recipient can reuse the fabric! It’s like a gift within a gift.
Reusable tote bags or other fabric bags can work just like a traditional paper gift bag but they can be reused after and can encourage more eco-friendly practices, according to Dunn.
Make a Gift Basket
Who doesn’t love a well-curated gift basket? Sure, you could get one of those meat and cheese baskets at the grocery store, but you could make something more personal instead.
Fill a basket with a few of your giftee’s favorite things or a couple of items on their wish list! And while you’re personalizing, you don’t have to stop with the gifts.
Baskets are great, but consider opting for something more suitable to the recipient. An assortment of kitchen goodies can go in a mixing bowl instead of a basket. A storage container makes a great basket for toys, and even a vintage suitcase would work for toiletries or fashion items.
Put It in a Jar
One of Dunn’s favorite alternatives to paper gift wrap is assorted jars. Think mason jars, reusable tins, coffee mugs or water bottles.
“I like to keep the holidays simple and stick to the basics, so I bake cookies for my family and craft ornaments,” says Dunn. She often places them in tins or jars and ties the handmade ornament around the container to trim the package.
For items like water bottles or mugs, Dunn suggests filling them with things like a gift card or money. You could also put socks or another small accessory in the jar with some treats or a gift card.
Stuff a Stocking
Consider using a stocking to hold gifts. Just like with a traditional stocking, you can fill it with little gifts and trinkets or make it more themed like you would with a gift basket.
For small stockings, think of small or thin gifts you can place inside, like gift cards, candy or jewelry. Typical size stockings can fit things like small tech gadgets, perfume, mugs, Blu-ray Discs and books. You can even buy over-sized stockings for bulkier gifts like sweaters or small appliances.
Hide It in Another Gift
You can do that? Sure! It’s like the nesting dolls of gifts, and who doesn’t love that?
What kind of gifts can you hide something inside? You can hide makeup in a new makeup bag or case. Got a sports lover on your hands? Hide tickets to a game inside of a collector’s box or cup. Does your giftee like to stay active? Put new gym clothes or an activity tracker inside a nice gym bag or a membership to their favorite yoga studio rolled up in a new yoga mat!
The options are endless – it just takes a little bit of creativity.
One of my favorite parts of gift wrapping is trimming the package in ribbons and adornments. If you’re going paperless and don’t want to use foil ribbons or paper name tags, how can you make your gifts feel a little extra special?
Dunn suggests using seasonal items to decorate your packages: “The best way to trim any selection of wrapped gifts is with dried fruit like lemons, oranges, or apple slices, cinnamon sticks, or sprigs of rosemary or herbs that can be used again in the kitchen or composted.”
She also encourages using fabric ribbon instead of the plastic or foil alternative.
Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Options
If you have a hard time thinking of using something besides wrapping paper to wrap your gifts, some paper options are still easier on the environment.
“If paper is necessary, hemp or bamboo paper should be considered. Both hemp and bamboo grow at a much faster rate. While a tree can take 10 – 30 years to mature, bamboo can take less than five years to mature and typically grows three to five feet per year,” according to Dunn.
The eco-friendly event planner also suggests seeded paper. “I love seed paper which can be planted directly into the ground and will produce wildflowers from the seeds within it,” adds Dunn.
The downside of seeded paper is that it’s more expensive than the other options. Dunn suggests using it sparingly, for something like holiday cards, if you’re looking to stay on a budget.
Give the Gift of Sustainability
However you decide to go green this holiday, giving with a sustainable wrapping option can help encourage those practices with your friends and family.
Going completely paper-free isn’t practical for everyone, but you can likely still think of ways to incorporate green elements where possible.
If you have tips for paperless gift-wrapping, share them in our comment section.
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