Everybody enjoys the excitement and surprise of unwrapping a gift, both on their birthdays and when the holidays roll around. But the impact of gift wrap and packaging on the environment and our wallets is staggering. Nearly 1/3 of the waste generated in the U.S. is made up of packaging materials. It has been estimated that if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! Even more incredible, if each family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
Greening the way we give gifts doesn’t mean using green paper or spending more green (i.e. money). Reusing materials and rethinking the way we wrap our gifts can reduce our impact on the planet, save our wallets, and create beautiful and personalized gifts. Some ideas you might consider:
- Furoshiki – This is a Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in cloth. Consider using scrap cloth from your sewing bin, old cloth napkins, sheets, curtains, or clothing that could make for beautifully wrapped gifts. Consider securing the gift with buttons, safety pins, ribbons, or knots.
- Newspaper & Paper bags – There are lots of ways to personalize and embellish newspaper and paper bags to create beautifully wrapped gifts. You can add origami embellishments, ribbon, glitter, or stamps to dress up the packaging. If you are going the newspaper route it could be fun to highlight words that have meaning to the person you are giving the gift, or even make a puzzle about the surprise that is beneath the paper by highlighting clues!
- Children’s Drawings – This is a great way to really personalize a present, and would work well for parents, grandparents, teachers, or anyone that has a close connection to your little one.
- Old Shopping Bags & Gift Bags – It seems like common sense, but reusing the bag the store gave you to give your gift is a great idea. Again you can embellish it with ribbons or stamps to add a personal touch.
- Old Maps or Posters – If you have old maps or posters lying around your house those can make excellent wrapping paper for gifts!
- Wrap the Gift in a Gift – If you really want to be eco friendly try wrapping a gift with another gift. For example wrap jewelry or a small purse in a pretty scarf!
- Cloth Bags & Sturdy Boxes – Using cloth bags or very sturdy decorative boxes means that your gift wrap can be reused for future gifts or for storage!
At Make A Birthday Wish we are accepting gently used gift bags or ribbons to wrap presents for children! So if you are interested in helping out and clearing out old bags send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set up a way to collect your bags!
Do you have any of your own eco friendly ideas for wrapping gifts? Or any pictures of your green gift wrapping – share them with us!