'Tis the season for gifting! Now that you've been "nice" and bought all those eco-friendly gifts, you surely aren't going to wrap them in toxic paper, right? If using the Sunday comics section isn't your idea of a lovely wrapping job, fear not. There are other options that can make your gifts look fabulous without cutting down trees and adding more trash to the landfill. And even if you bought some of those not-so-eco-friendly gifts, like I must confess I did, you should still try some eco-friendly wrapping, and maybe you can assuage a little guilt at the same time. It may even get you back onto the "nice" list.
Did you know that the US creates 5 millions pounds of wrapping paper and shopping bag waste during the holiday season? Learn more about why regular gift wrap is such a problem in "Ix-Nay on the Wrapping Paper, eh?" on the Green Girls Global Blog. If you can't get into crafting your own eco-friendly wrap, this blog will help you find some eco-friendly papers printed with soy ink. There are a few more papers featured over on Ecofabulous. Just be sure to reuse these papers, or at least recycle them, when the holidays are over.
For those of you who don't mind getting a little crafty, there are numerous alternatives to the gift wrap and plastic bow routine. The old standard wrap replacements are newspaper or paper grocery bags turned inside out. Before you dismiss the Sunday comics, though, see for yourself that a comic-wrapped present and matching bow can be attractive, as shown in this post on Crafting a Green World (there's a great bow tutorial there, too, as shown in the image above).
You could also look through the newspaper and try to find fun headlines that match the present or the recipient, then cut out the headline and glue it to the front of the package. Or use newspaper to make a lovely flower for the top of the package by following the tutorial on the Craft website.
As for the grocery bag, it can be left plain or stamped or colored to your heart's content. Don't be afraid to leave it plain, though. After all, "brown paper packages tied up with string" might be among that recipient's favorite things. Of course, plain paper can make a great base for collage projects, too. Glue on phrases or pictures cut from magazines to create a them for your package. Try to see the present as a canvas for your creativity. Don't forget that natural materials, such as pine cones, make lovely ornamentation, as would old silk flowers. Garden twine could serve as ribbon, as could an old t-shirt cut into strips. Just dig around in that junk drawer and see what you can find.
You could also search Flickr.com for "recycled paper gift wrap" or other similar phrases to see what other people have done with their gift wrap. I was very inspired by the photo mosaic "Brown paper packages tied up with string..." by AllThingsBright. See? Brown paper can be quite lovely.
If you hate wrapping presents, avoid the whole thing altogether by making a package for your present from a recycled cereal box. Just take it apart, turn it inside out, and there's a lovely handmade gift bag. For specific instructions, you can find the tutorial on the EcoEtsy Blog, along with a number of other eco-friendly tutorials.
Try to think outside the regular old gift box. Maybe a reusable bag would work, or wrap one gift, like a book, with another gift, like a scarf. There are some wonderful ideas in GreenCraft Magazine, with all sorts of packaging made from materials in the recycling bin, such as tin can containers and recycled paper bowls. If you're looking for inspiration to create your own fabulous packaging, this magazine is a good place to start. You'll see that there are many ideas for creating recycled gift wrap, many more than I can list here.
Now that you have seen a number of gift wrap alternatives, don't be afraid to try something different this year. Whether you use the ideas here, or create your own, your efforts will help minimize our impact on the planet and will keep some of the holiday waste out of our landfills, and that's something you can be proud about.
In case you're not familiar with EcoMonday, this post will help explain it. And if you're wondering about the "mélange" bit, that's the mish-mash part that makes it okay for me to have posts about cats and crafting!