According to the EPA, Americans discard 25 million extra tons of trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. If you cross conventional wrapping supplies off your holiday shopping list this year, you can cut down on this waste, conserve resources like trees and energy, and save money too. Here are fun, festive alternatives to gift wrap, some of which you can reuse year after year:
According to the Sierra Club, if every family wrapped just three gifts with repurposed materials like newspaper, a scarf, or children’s artwork this holiday season, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
• Reusable fabric gift bags can be cute, durable, and available in lots of sizes. They don't require any tape or ribbon, because they have a drawstring or a ribbon attached so you can tie a bow. Invest in a set your family can use every year, like Christmas stockings.
• You can also sew your own, using fabric remnants you have on hand. Or, wrap gifts in scarves or fabric remnants. Watch this video to learn a Japanese method of wrapping gifts in cloth that's similar to origami.
• Wrapping paper made from 100 percent recycled content requires less water and energy to produce and helps to divert usable paper from the waste stream. For holiday-themed recycled wrapping paper, check out Fishlipspaperdesigns, Shopecosaurus, and Earthloven.
• Maps, calendars, posters, and wallpaper scraps can also make unique wrapping papers. And you can decorate the brown paper from grocery bags with stamps or children's artwork or handprints.
• Save the prettiest and most durable paper gift bags, boxes, and ribbons you've received - even disposable wrappings can be reused many times. My family has a large collection of holiday-themed paper gift bags stuffed with tissue paper, for example, that we use for our gift exchange every year. You can also put scraps of used wrapping paper through a shredder to make a decorative stuffing for gift bags.
• Incorporate the wrapping or container as part of the gift- for example, a plant in a gorgeous ceramic pot or a collection of imported pastas and sauces in a colander. Or give homemade treats like gingerbread cookies, jam, or herb-infused oils in reusable jars, bottles, canisters, or tins.
• For quirky, personalized gift packaging the recipient will want to keep, look for vintage baskets, lunch boxes, cigar boxes, hat boxes, tea towels, and handkerchiefs at thrift stores and flea markets.
And remember, it's the thought—not the wrapping—that counts most.
Can you recommend any clever ways to wrap presents in repurposed materials or to make the wrapping part of the gift? Share your ideas by commenting below.