Green gift wrap

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Now that Christmas and Hanukkah are just around the corner and the gift giving season has arrived gift wrap is high on the agenda and much of the so-called wrapping paper is in fact non-recyclable metal foil.

Even if the gift wrap is actual paper it is often coated in such a way that – again – recycling is not possible and the stuff just ends up in the landfill.

But whether foil or paper gift wrapping is a big source of waste during the holidays and, I must also say, as far as birthdays and such like are concerned.

Trash cans overflow after the Hanukkah and Christmas holiday festivities. Wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and boxes fill up a big portion of that over-stuffed bin. Ease the load going to the landfill by wrapping your gifts in repurposed items and reusable containers.

Reuse gift bags: Most of us have a stash of gift bags saved from presents we've received. Put them to good use and commit to using only gift bags instead of wrapping. Also, if you feel a gift bag isn't finished without a filler like tissue paper, use a greener option – the shreds from your paper shredder.

Use paper grocery bags: You can create beautiful gift bags from materials found around the house such as decorating paper grocery bags with markers and crayons, or decoupage them with magazine cut-outs. Use it as wrapping paper or a gift sack. Put on the finishing touch with scrap ribbon from previous projects.

On the other hand, you could use those brown paper bags just as they come as gift bags or as wrapping paper. Why not? It is the gift that matters and NOT the wrapping.

Another great way it to use reusable cloth bags. Do you have scrap fabric lying around? Or maybe some old shirts you never wear but that have lovely patterns. Try your hand at some easy-sew cloth bags. Since you're making them by hand, you can sew them to suit your needs. You can also design them to be practical for the recipient as a shopping bag. Your imagination is the limit.

Another great idea is the use of Furoshiki, a Japanese way of wrapping gifts in a cloth. It is a method of folding cloth into beautiful packages. Using a piece of beautifully printed cloth and a few knots in interesting places will create an eye-catching package.

Other great gift warps are out-of-date maps, newspaper, especially the comic pages, and also junk mail. All is possible and very useful. As to the maps; do not use antique maps, however. Wallpaper samples also make a great way to wrap gifts.

Those couple of ideas that I have listed here I just intend as a little food for thought. I am sure you can all find some great ideas yourself in addition to those listed here and there are many more ideas on the Internet.

The Japanese really know about reusable packing when it comes to many things. Many items end up packed in beautiful wooden boxes and such like which will be reused by the recipient, of that we can be sure. I have encountered a number of those packages and they are works of beauty in themselves.

On the other hand, always remember that the gift is what should count more than the wrapping.

© 2010