The Holidays can be filled with gratifying events and beautiful gifts, large or small, drinks and plenty of food. Which means it can also be the trashiest time of the year—but it doesn’t have to be.
Unfortunately, gift wrapping, though beautiful, is one of the most wasteful aspects of the holiday season. The overflowing trash bins speak to the amount of gift bags and wrapping paper that goes off to landfills after large celebrations. So, if you're looking to cut down on your gift wrapping waste this year, here are some simple tips for how to wrap gifts in a more sustainable fashion.
Holiday waste comes from a variety of seemingly small sources. Ribbon, for example, is in high demand around Christmas time. In fact, each year roughly 38,000 miles of ribbon is sold in the weeks surrounding Dec. 25, enough to wrap a bow around planet Earth! How crazy is that. Similarly, sales for fake Christmas trees spike in December, as does the amount of green plastic fibers sent to your local dump in January. Other problems include plastic-heavy Hanukkah gifts and toxic paraffin wax candles (which we discussed on our last blog post). The trash pile suddenly seems big enough fill a football field 10 stories high!
Here are 5 easy tips to help you reduce your waste this holiday season.
1. Repurpose Paper from Elsewhere
Have you ever received a gift cleverly wrapped in newspaper, a brown paper grocery store bag, or a children’s drawing? Those are just a few of the sources for some great and sustainable wrapping paper.
Newspaper is a classic choice. You could even choose an article or ad that you think complements the gift or matches the person who’s getting the gift. However, since fewer and fewer of use choose to receive the news in its paper form, you might want to check out what you can do with the paper bags you’ve acquired from your local grocery store.
If you’re artsy, you can spruce up repurposed paper with a little drawing, but, even if you’re not, a dried flower or two tucked under some twine around the gift will provide a nice finishing touch. And, if you’re a parent who’s wondering what to do with all the finger paintings your young child has produced throughout the year … well, you’ve found your answer!
2. Get Creative with Fabric
Repurposed paper is great, but even there, you’ll likely resort to plastic if you want to tape the paper for a snug fit. Fabric wrapping, however, doesn’t rely on tape at all!
The Japanese have been using the art of Furoshiki fabric wrapping for generations, and you can find easy-to-follow guides, online videos (here is a great one) that will help you wrap anything from a wine bottle to a pair of books with a simple square of fabric. You can use a nice silk scarf that adds another aspect to your gift or a simple camping bandana. And, if you want to include a longer wrap or piece of fabric with your gift, you can fold it into a square or try your own wrapping and tying technique.
3. Choose a Container with Another Purpose
Gift boxes are often flimsy and cheap, designed for single use. However, there are plenty of beautiful boxes designed for long-term storage. They are handy for holding all sorts of things, and many are decorative enough to be kept on shelves and tables in full view. You can get boxes in all kinds of materials, from wood to tin. Many tins come pre-decorated in holiday colors, but you can also reuse candy and cookie tins from previous seasons.
If a box or tin is not the right shape or function, you might also consider a basket or a jar. Baskets come cheap and plentiful at thrift stores, and they can be quite beautiful. And jars prove quite handy later for kitchen storage for things like sugar and coffee. Plus, they come large or small, clear or opaque.
You can dress up all of these options with a reusable cloth ribbon and a pinecone or a sprig of fir.
4. Pick a Reusable Bag
(Use the reusable jute bag included in every Lunar Method order as a gift bag)
You don’t have to be limited to the bags in the gift wrapping aisle. Think of all the lovely bags you might choose that would add another element to your gift. From canvas tote bags to velvety pouches, the options offer you an array of sizes and styles to choose from when trying to accommodate your gift and add something personalized to the wrapping choice.
If you’re giving someone jewelry, consider putting it in a small bag or case that will serve for long-term storage. If the gift is large, put it in a cotton tote bag, reusable bag, or shoulder bag that suits the style of the receiver.
5. Reuse paper Gift Bags/boxes
If you still love the ease and style of more traditional wrapping, elect to use gift bags and boxes instead of wrapping paper and then ensure it will be reused. You can ask the person who gets the gift if they would like to keep the bag/box for future use. If not, carefully refold it and keep it with your stash of gift materials for upcoming occasions. When someone else gives you a gift in a gift bag, you get to keep that one, too!
You’ll be surprised by how many gifts one bag can share. And, if you’re concerned about using the gift bag twice for one person, you can keep a list inside when you store it that tells you who’s received gifts in that bag.
At Lunar Method, we are all about marrying sustainability with style. We know you want your belongings and the gifts you give to bring beauty and quality wherever they go. Now, you can do that in a way that also supports the environment.