“The most sustainable item is the one that already exists.”– 2018 State of Reuse Report
Canadians generate 540,000 tonnes of waste from gift wrapping and shopping bags every year — that’s the equivalent of 100,000 elephants if you need a visual. Most gift wrapping is made out of hard-to-recycle mixed materials and so goes straight to landfill.
Over the Holidays, our waste volume goes up by at least 25% — hardly a surprise to anyone who has ventured out into the streets on the garbage day after christmas. The sidewalks become an obstacle course of overstuffed garbage bins and bags nearly exploding with old wrapping, ribbon and packaging.
If every Canadian wrapped just 3 gifts in upcycled materials rather than buying wrapping paper new, enough paper would be saved to cover 45,000 Hockey rinks. So for those looking to reduce their waste this Holiday season, gift wrapping is an easy and simple place to start. Here are 12 techniques to rethink how you wrap up your gifts the wasteless way this year.
1) Furoshiki Wrapping
A series of Japanese wrapping techniques for wrapping gifts in cloth, this is a go-to for gifts of all shapes and sizes.
But before you rush out and buy brand new cloth just to wrap gifts, remember that textile waste is a significant issue in and of itself – we send 81lbs of textiles to landfill per person each year in North America. It’s far more sustainable to use pieces of fabric you already have or check out local thrift stores to find second hand fabrics to use.
Check out this guide for an amazing list of the different Japanese Furoshiki folding techniques you can try.
2) Stop using tape
We’ve all grown up with tape as a staple in the gift-wrapping experience. But what if I told you – you don’t need it to wrap gifts?
It’s just as simple – maybe simpler, actually – to fold up your gift the same as you would with tape, and then fasten it together using string. And again, bonus points for reusing string you already have.
If you really feel you need to have tape, opt for paper washi tape.
3) Use natural greenery and foraged sprigs
Skip the plastic bows and ribbons and go foraging for leaves, pine cones, berries, cedar or pine branches instead! These are truly biodegradable and can be returned to the Earth when the unwrapping is complete.
4) Use old maps
Do you have any old maps lying around? If you don’t have a use for them anymore or anyone to pass them on to, consider using them to wrap up your Holiday gifts.
5) Upcycle magazines
That old stack of magazines sitting at the back of your closet or on a shelf in your neighbour’s garage? Their glossy finish and brightly coloured pictures will make for stylish and chic looking gifts.
6) DIY bows out of upcycled magazines
Not only can you wrap your gifts using old magazines, you can also make bows with them! You’ll find instructions on how to do this here, here, and here. If you need a video tutorial, you’ll find a good one here.
You can also use maps.
7) Use newspaper
Here’s an easy one: head to a coffee shop at the end of the day and grab the newspaper before it goes in the bin. Today’s news becomes tomorrow’s perfectly cute and trendy gift wrapping.
And here’s how to make the newspaper roses.
8) Use a shirt
Check out your local thrift store for a cute shirt or find one you’ve already got but aren’t wearing anymore. You’ll find an online tutorial for how to use shirts as wrapping online here.
9) DIY gift bags out of cardboard boxes
Put any cereal boxes in your recycling bin lately? Go get them out and make these cute DIY gift bags.
10) Make your own Holiday cards and tags
Reuse old cards you’ve received with gifts and upcycle them into holiday cards and gift tags.
11) Kids artwork
Kids bring home a ton of artwork from school. You can’t keep all of it, but it probably feels bad to throw it away. With their permission, get them to select some of their drawings or paintings and use those to wrap some gifts.
12) Use whatever you have lying around
I keep a little basket tucked away on a shelf where I throw cards people send me, packaging paper or string on gifts and parcels, etc. I pull this out whenever I have to wrap a gift. This saves me money and time – I don’t have to shop for gift wrapping paper and everything I need is always in one place.
Keep the magic of the Holidays, skip the waste ✌️ #LetsGetWasteless
Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo are the world champions of plastic pollution. And it’s time for a change. Tell these brands to stop single-use plastic packaging and invest in refill and reuse now!
Great ideas! I have been using pillow cases & tea towels as well as the same gift bags / ribbons over and over for years.
My daughter has been doing everything ecology minded for years she even started her business retrieving fabrics meant for landfil and she has been recycling them for gift wrapping, napkins, tea towels, pillows etc. Her company’s name is “eve likes green”. And also Hillcrest designs, where she designs kitchens and bathrooms with highest integrity to quality and environment. Ever since she was a child she was always ahead of her time, she became vegetArian as soon as she was able to defy me and I could not force her to eat any meat or sea food. Her children are also vegetArian with great regard for every living species. So I just would like to point out that I thought my daughter was very unique and difficult, but as it turns out she was the pioneer in saving the planet before it was in crisis.
We have taught our children to careful unwrap any wrapped presents they receive (they actually love this as much as other kids love to tear the wrapping paper) - and we reuse that paper up to ten times...using smaller bits every time. I haven't bought any wrapping paper in over a decade.
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Simple, very do-able, and lovely heart-felt ideas for folks trying to save our planet. Thank you ✌
Excellent idea to use clothes and magazine paper for gift wrap. Save and waste the paper from wrapping the gift. Blogger at https://thefireflygrill.com/
Great ideas about wrapping presents with things we already have. I’ll be opening my eyes to creative possibilities laying around my house. Thank you!
Thanks for article on ending the plastic age. It is not going to be easy, but I support Greenpeace’s efforts.