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Posted on December 17, 2019 at 10:00 AM by Micah Grau
by Sustainability Commissioner Brittany Davis
It is that time of year when we wrap more presents over a few days than we do throughout the entire year. Giving and receiving gifts is an exciting part of the holiday season, but it is important to think about what is happening to all that wrapping paper.
Each year, more than 8,000 tons of wrapping paper (equivalent of about 50,000 trees) are used to wrap presents and most of that paper is not recycled. Also, about 114,000 tons of plastic packaging will be thrown away, not recycled, during the holiday. To reduce waste (and save money!) I have provided some tips for repurposing everyday items into gift wrap and decoration.
Paper Shopping Bags Scrap Paper
Many retail stores now give customers brown paper bags for their items, which can be reused to wrap gifts. You can deconstruct a bag to create a large piece of wrapping material. Cover a store logo using an old holiday greeting card or some scrap paper with a stamp or sticker (like the bottom gift in the photo – the red paper is a scrap piece of paper and I put a “Merry Christmas” stamp I got from the One Spot in Target).
When we order things online or purchase a delicate boxed item, we usually receive packing paper, which can be saved and used to wrap a gift! The gift on the far left of this photo utilized packing paper from one of my Amazon orders.
Fabric, Shirts, Scarves, Napkins, Towels
Fabric items make great gift-wrapping materials because they don't require tape! They look cute and can be tied up nicely around gifts of any shape or size. Think about old shirts or scarves you don't use or cute dishtowels or napkins that you find on sale that the recipient can actually use after they unwrap their gift!
The bottom right photo is an old white sweater that I cut up and used to wrap a wallet.
Newspaper, Magazines, Book Covers
Reuse paper items you will probably just throw away, such as newsprint, weekly ads, magazines, and old book covers.
For Decorations: Old Jewelry, Fresh Herbs, Twine, Old Ribbon, Tree Trunk Cuts
Think about the natural items you have at your disposal, like rosemary or fresh herbs. These make great gift-wrapping decorations on their own or formed into shapes. Old jewelry and broaches can be included on gifts using twine or ribbon to make fun decorations too!
Places that sell real Christmas Trees have “throw away” bins full of tree trunk cuts that can be used as decoration or name tags. Drill a hole to insert twine or ribbon to attach it to the gift.
Ultimate goal: Repurpose!
As you move through the year, think about things that you typically throw away that can be reused. When I purchase bed sheets, a ribbon comes around them inside the packaging – this is something I can save to reuse on a gift! Over time, you will begin thinking of things to use on your gifts. Get creative, help the environment, and save money by utilizing sustainable gift-wrapping strategies.