I belong to a group of conservers — environmentalists who hate throwing anything out. An artist friend is known to ask her husband to stop the car when she sees interesting trash on the side of the road. “Art supplies,” she explains.
When I realized that most gift wrap bought in stores was eco-unfriendly, I started exploring ways to wrap gifts in ways that looked good while leaving a light footprint. It was a great way to use up some of the paper and cloth supplies I couldn’t throw away.
Overall, it’s not so easy being green. We’ve all got our own long checklists of things we could (or wish) do: use solar panels, drive a Chevrolet Volt, grow an organic garden, for instance. These are big moves. But something as seemingly inconsequential as gift wrap can have a large impact on the world around us while adding pleasure to the gift-giving experiences for both parties.
- The U.S. generates an extra 5 million tons of trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day – 80 percent is wrapping paper and shopping bags.
- If every American family wrapped three gifts in re-used materials, we’d save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
- If every American family reused two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
And, remember, our landfills are getting full. The Los Angeles Sanitation District closed the Puente Hills Landfill, the largest in the nation on Oct. 31 — it had been operating since 1960. According to our research, the average expected life of landfills in Maryland, Virginia, and Massachusetts is 20 years.
Expanding your wrap repertoire is easy. It doesn’t take much time to do and you can save money on supplies. Here are some ideas.
Use cloth wrap, which can be reused — scarves, towels, pillow cases, shopping bags. Use traditional Japanese and Korean wrapping techniques or just fold the cloth and tie it with ribbon.
Reuse last year’s wrapping paper. If wrinkled, press lightly with a cool iron. If one piece of paper doesn’t cover the package, cover one side and use another piece of paper in a different pattern for the opposite side. Or, use paper bags. If they don’t have a good design on the outside, turn them inside out.
If you want to see additional examples for ideas and inspiration, check out our Eco-Gift Wrap Pinterest Board, which has over 1,000 examples of gift wrap for your reference and convenience.