Monday, December 22, 2014

Earth-friendly and creative gift wrapping ideas

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
According to Clean Air Council, about 5 million tons of waste is generated by Americans during the holidays. In my home country Norway, where only five million people live, we manage to generate about 2,700 tons of gift wrap annually.

When I shared this information during a lunch hour at the office earlier this week, my colleagues refused to believe it. Most of them thought that the amount was no more than 100 tons.

So, how can we pursue a sustainable Christmas? :-)
Sustainable and creative gift wrapping ideas with textile and pine cones
Sustainable and creative gift wrapping ideas


What classifies as sustainable or eco friendly gift wrap?

Using less paper is a good start! An idea is to start with what you already have at home:
  • Newspapers
  • Pages from magazines
  • Comic books
  • Maps
  • Textiles (linen, cotton)
  • Table cloths
  • Re-use last year's Christmas gift wrap
To make home-made gift wrap nicer, you can add paper layers or textile layers, or spruce some paint. As an example, you can wrap the present in newspaper/magazine and then add a textile in any color you want.
Painting snow crystals on brown wrapping paper using matches
Painting snow crystals on brown wrapping paper
using matches
Adding layer to Christmas gift wrapping: napkin from Iittala
Adding layer to Christmas gift wrapping:
napkin from Iittala

If you don't have the time to be creative, you might want to try brown paper wrap, hemp paper or any paper that can be recycled.

Wood paper and hemp paper are recyclable.

In fact, hemp paper can be recycled several times than the ordinary wood-based paper. Foil and metallic wrapping paper are on the other hand, not recyclable.

So, instead of foil, glittery and/or metallic wrapping paper you should choose:
  • Brown wrapping paper or kraft paper
  • Recycled gift paper
  • Paper gift boxes
  • Reusable gift bags made from fabric
One of the good reasons for purchasing recyclable gift wrap, is that recycling paper uses less energy and water than it takes to make brand new paper. It's not like paper can be recycled indefinitely, but it can be re-used 4-7 times according to some sources.
Sustainable and creative gift wrapping ideas with recyclable gift paper and textile
Use gift wrap that are recyclable!

You might want to check out 100% recycled paper from the Green Field paper company or Fish Lips Paper Designs. Fish Lips have cute and colorful design on their paper! ;-) UK readers can find 100% recycled gift paper at Re-wrapped.

Read: Three sustainable options for Christmas party outfits and outfits for New Year's Eve.

What about ribbons, ornaments, cards and tape?

I mentioned hemp paper earlier, and to make gift wrapping more environmentally friendly, you should go for hemp twine. You can find hemp twine in many colors these days, and is a nice replacement for plastic gift ribbons.

Instead of duct tape, you should opt for washi tape which is a Japanese invention made from rice paper. Washi tape is excellent for sprucing up that boring brown wrapping paper! ;-)

Ribbon and twine:

  • Hemp twine
  • Organic cotton cord
  • Washi tape instead of ordinary duct tape
  • Re-use ribbons from last year
Brown wrapping paper, last year's silk paper and old interior magazine as gift wrap
Brown wrapping paper, last year's silk paper and old interior magazine as gift wrap

Gift wrap decorations: 

  • Borrow from nature (twigs, pine cones, pine leaves)
    1. Instead of purchasing pine cones, find them in the forest or maybe in one of your local parks. Make sure that you dry the pine cones for at least a couple of days, or if you don't have the time, dry them in the oven. You should dry them so the resin residue is removed and so the layers will open up beautifully! :-)

    2. Paint the pine cones (see the picture above). I used hobby paint from Marabu, which is known to be environmentally friendly. You can use any colors, but since the pine cones are naturally dark, you should go for white or bright colors like pink or baby blue. 

  • Re-use ornaments from last year
  • Thread some wooden beads onto the hemp twine
Gift wrapping supplies: greens, pine cones, last year's ornaments, wooden beads and paper tags
Gift wrapping supplies: greens, pine cones, last year's ornaments, wooden beads and paper tags

Cards and tags:

  • Recycled gift paper tags
  • Cut out letters from a newspaper/magazine/old book
  • Vintage postcards from Etsy or flea markets
  • Even better - why not try edible gift tags?
    • Find out how to make Christmas cookie gift tags on Food and Wine (opens in a new window)

Want more inspiration for creative gift wrapping ideas? Check out my Pinterest board "A Sustainable Christmas"


How do you wrap gifts the eco-friendly way? Let us know in the comment field below!


Continue to read:
Guide on how to recycle candle jars 101.

Outfit ideas for Valentine's Day - the sustainable way. 


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