Updated: Dec 23, 2020
The holidays are always a time of indulgence, which for many of us is a source of anxiety. Finding that useful gift that won’t get thrown in the back of a closet (ie. every toy in my child’s room), or even worse, in the landfill is difficult. We live in a disposable society, and the Holidays amplify our most wasteful impulses.
One way to avoid the disposable nature of gift giving is to use waste-free wrapping. Making or reusing gift wrapping not only reduces waste, it adds a bit of creativity and individuality to your gifts, and in our family, has become a yearly tradition.
Many waste haulers won’t accept gift wrap in their recycling bins. That is because gift wrapping often contains wax, glitter, and can have tape attached to it; this contaminates the paper recycling stream. As with anything you put in your recycling bin, if you are not sure it belongs in there, check their website.
Here are a few simple ideas for reducing gift wrapping waste that our family has used throughout the years.
Reusing paper gift bags- Do you have a stash of paper gift bags in your closet like I do? I just can’t throw these away, and why should I? If I can get one more use out of them then I just kept one more bag out of the waste stream. If the bag is starting to rip, cut little squares, use a paper punch to create a hole and make your own gift tags!
Making your own fabric gift bags-This requires a sewing machine and rudimentary sewing skills. There are so many reasons I love this idea and have been making them for the past few years. First, they are so darned cute! Fabric bags bring you back to the days of yore, just picture a Victorian Santa leaving presents under a tree. Second, you don’t need to buy new fabric, (although if I find something I like at the local fabric store I will splurge). You can find fabric scraps at thrift stores, and scraps will do the trick! As a matter of fact, if you have small scraps you can get even craftier and use a different fabric for each side of the bag.
Third, you can give them as gifts! I love this idea because you can get other people to use them, and maybe you’ll even get a gift in a bag that you made.
Fabric bags are simple squares or rectangles with draw strings ( I also find the ribbon for draw strings at thrift stores), and can be used for one gift or you can put multiple gifts in a bag. They are very simple to make, but the person on the receiving end will be wowed by your skills and creativity.
Grocery bag wrapping paper-This is a fun one that kids AND adults will enjoy. Instead of recycling the random paper grocery bag you get at the store because you forgot your reusable one, save them and make gift wrap! I cut the bottom off to get rid of those pesky seams, and if there is a paper handle, remove that as well. We use rubber stamps that we purchased at thrift stores and stamp ink (you’ll have to buy that new, but it lasts a long time), and viola! You have wrapping paper!
These are just a few ideas on how to make gift giving more sustainable. We would love to hear what you have done! Share your ideas on social media with your friends and tag us!