Friday, December 12, 2008

Wrapping it all up

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I love wrapping presents. Even though I get frustrated when I don't quite have enough paper, or I tape my hair to the package (hey, my hair hangs down to my waist, these things happen!), or the cat won't stop attacking the curling ribbon, or the bows keep insisting on falling off the package because their glue is drying out, it's still fun.

But as I become more environmentally conscious in my old age (you know, the ripe old age of 26), I'm starting to feel a little guilty about my wrapping tendencies. It's bad enough that so many presents come in an excess of packaging, but now I'm adding to the waste by wrapping everything in shiny paper and then layer on the ribbons, bows, and tags. What's a girl to do?

Obviously, as a crafty girl, I can come up with some clever ways to wrap gifts without adding junk to the landfill. Here are a few ideas; if you have some tips of your own, please post them in the comments section!

-Wrap presents in fabric instead of paper. This works best if the gift receiver is also crafy. But alternately, the fabric can just be saved to wrap future presents!

-Wrap presents with brown paper bags, and then decorate them! This has been a favorite tactic of mine for years. Paper bags are cheap (usually free), sturdy, and can easily be adorned with silly marker drawings, rubber stamps, and stickers. Then they can be tossed in the recycling bin.

-Put the present in some sort of re-usable container. Every year, everyone in my family gets a plastic shoe box full of stocking-stuffer type stuff. Once I've put away all of my holiday goodies, I turn around and fill the shoebox with beads. It's very handy. This year, Mom is talking about "wrapping" a lot of presents in those reusable grocery bags. This is another great idea. They're as cheap as a buck, they're colorful, and they're useful all year 'round. If you want to get fancy, you can search Etsy for reusable bags and get some very creative ones that cost more but can be considered part of the present.

-Look for standard wrapping items that can be re-used. My family usually passes back and forth the same sturdy gift bags and boxes for a few years before they get retired. As long as you tie them shut with ribbon instead of taping them, and use tie-on tags instead of sticker ones, you can get 4-5 or more uses out of a well-made container.

-Instead of bows, decorate your packages with Christmas ornaments, candy canes, or other small items that are festive and useful.

-Recycle and repurpose! Pull all of the tape and tags off of your used wrapping paper and toss it in the recycling bin instead of the trash. Recycle or re-use as much gift packaging as possible. Turn all of that leftover curling ribbon into a cat toy, since the cat is going to play with it anyway.

-Or burn it all. I suppose the smoke isn't great for air quality, but it is fun to toss balls of wrapping paper into a bonfire and watch it get consumed.


  1. When I used paper bags, I used to make potato stamps and koolaid dye.

  2. Hey AJ, love your blog, read every one as it comes out, and think you are one of the most intelligent and well read people I have come across in a long time. I am so happy we managed to meet up vioa facebook. Keep up the great recycling work, and hope you feel well enough to bead soon! - Nancy

  3. Great idea, Marilee, and probably also fun for kids, for those who have 'em ;)

    Thanks Nancy, you're far too nice!