Beautifully wrapped presents are one of the most cherished sights of the holiday season. However, no matter how lovely, most gift wrap is, it’s not particularly environmentally friendly. Fortunately, as businesses and consumers have become more eco-savvy, there are a lot more options to wrap festively and still be environmentally conscious during this giving season. Read on to learn what to avoid and how to create gorgeous, sustainably wrapped presents.
What to Avoid
First, let’s get the bad news out of the way. The truth is that all of those gleaming rolls of paper and bags and bags of ribbons and bows you see in stores are most likely what’s called virgin, one-use products. They may be convenient and pretty, but they, along with any kind of plastic, were simply made to be destroyed and use up a lot of natural resources in their creation, not to mention that all that waste quickly ends up in landfills.
According to a recent Stanford study, “If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.” That’s a lot of paper! So think before you reach for that roll. And, remember, if you’re traveling for the holidays, wait to wrap up your carefully selected packages until after your plane ride. Otherwise, you might have to wrap twice!
What to Wrap with Instead
With that out of the way, let’s move on to the good news. Sustainable wrapping is fun because it means you get to be creative! You can take the recycling route and use old newspaper, book pages, or even brown paper bags (pro tip: break out some stencils, colored markers, or pencils and create fun little art projects). Go natural and use your environment as a resource. Forage for pinecones, dried flowers, and holly sprigs and go to town with them in place of ribbons and bows. Just be sure that when giving a gift to small children or those with animals that you choose appropriate decorations to wrap with so that no one ends up eating something they shouldn’t. Don’t have time to rustle up recycled pieces or pinecones? You can buy recycled paper like these or pick out a bolt of colorful cloth to create your gifting masterpieces.
Tips for Mailing Gifts
Another holiday pitfall is when you go to mail your carefully wrapped packages. A few things to think about is to use eco-friendly packing material so that you avoid bubble wrap (and other plastics). Consider using a recycled box. Yes, it may feel odd to resend a branded box with unrelated presents inside, but reuse is always preferable to buying them new. And last but not least, think small. Pick out smaller gifts so that your package creates less of a carbon footprint as it wings its way to your friends and loved ones.
Truth in Packaging
The truth is, we send a lot of mail and so we think about how to practice sustainability in shipping a great deal. That’s why we put so much thought into every part of our packaging. If you want to learn more, you can check out our packaging blog post.
Have you created some particularly fun or beautiful sustainable presents? Tell us about it on Instagram!