One thing I can always remember about Christmas morning as a kid was the mounds of paper and plastic that gathered on the living room floor. So much that we feared we would lose something or someone in the chaos. Once everyone was done unwrapping their gifts and had them piled neatly by their side, the cleanup began. It never failed that there would be two or three large garbage bags of trash making their way to the curb – filled with the toxins from Christmas cheer.
It wasn’t until I became an adult and plugged into the horror of what trash was doing to our planet that I started to reassess the whole Christmas trash debacle. Why did we generate so much trash without even a second thought? How sad it truly was. It was at this point that I was determined to do Christmas differently. Less stuff and less trash meant we could have a more sustainable Christmas, thinking not just of others but also of this great planet of ours and future generations to come.
Wrapping Paper Facts
If you haven’t quite bought into the idea of going eco-friendly with your wrapping yet, maybe you will change your mind after you read these statistics:
- Americans spend 3.2 billion dollars a year on wrapping paper.
- Wrapping paper is made from trees, synthetic dye, and lamination.
- The plastic, glitter, tape used in and on wrapping paper is not biodegradable.
- Each household in America throws away an average of five extra bags of trash at Christmas.
- Much of this waste ends up polluting our oceans and contaminating the earth.
Ready To Go Green?
If you are ready to go green this Christmas, consider these environmentally friendly ways to wrap gifts:
1. Visit Your Local Thrift & Antique Stores
Not only are your local thrift and antique stores great for gift ideas but they are also full of amazing stuff that you can use to wrap your presents this year. Here are a few ideas.
- Old maps
- Vintage scarves
- Cute tea or kitchen towels
- Jars and cookie tins
- Bowls and cups
- Fabric pillowcases
- Yarn, ribbon
- Old sheet music
2. Stuff You Have Saved
It is likely that if you take a look around your home you already have quite a few interesting items that you can upcycle for packaging this year. Here are some nifty ideas.
- Tissue paper
- Shopping bags
What great fun it is to reuse material already headed for the trash or the thrift store. These things make great sustainable wrapping material.
- Magazine pages
- Book pages
- Food packages
- Old T-shirts/clothing
- Jeans that are too small
- Old pieces of jewelry to decorate packages
- Your children’s artwork
- Tea towels
- Baby food jars – these are great for jewelry
More Fun and Sustainable Ideas
4. Clay Flower Pots
Terracotta flower pots come in all shapes and sizes and make excellent containers for gifts. You can usually pick up pots at your local thrift store or collect them throughout the year at yard sales etc.. Decorate the pot using paint, markers or other embellishments that you might have lying around. If your pot comes with a drip tray, simply turn this upside down and use as the lid for your container. If you don’t have a drip tray, use a piece of fabric or a scarf to make a pretty covering for your pot.
5. Reusable Bags
Purchase or make reusable gift bags from fabric that can be used year after year. Burlap, cotton, and flannel make excellent gift bag material. If you don’t feel like sewing anything simply wrap your gift in fabric and tie with a pretty piece of matching cloth or twine.
6. Toilet Paper & Paper Towel Rolls
Empty rolls make great gift containers, especially for small items like jewelry. You can decorate these in any number of ways and simply push in the ends and tie with a pretty ribbon.
7. Cereal Boxes
How many boxes of cereal do you throw away each year and how many new boxes for Christmas gifts do you buy? Cover the box with fabric, newspaper or craft paper and decorate.
Eco-Friendly Tags & Embellishments
Here are a few neat ideas for gift tags that will not only save you money but are a great way to repurpose.
8. Save Your Old Christmas Cards
Keep your Christmas cards from year to year and simply cut them up to use as gift tags. Cut them in interesting shapes and punch a hole in them.
9. Downsize Your Christmas Collection
If you are like most people you have a lot of excess in the Christmas decor area. Use some of this decor to decorate your packages. This way you can give your friends and family ornaments and trimmings that they can use to decorate their home or use on packages next year.
10. Visit Your Garden Or The Woods
Get out in your backyard and hunt for original and organic things to adorn your packages. Ideas include pinecones, sprigs of evergreen, sticks, dried flowers and leaves.
11. Old Photos
Share old photos with friends and family. Cut them in pretty shapes and use for labels.
More Tips for Going Green This Christmas
There are lots of others ways in addition to changing how you wrap that you can give a little back to the earth this Christmas. Here are just a few ideas:
- Keep Christmas simple – simple decor, simple gifts, simple food etc…
- Use LED lights
- Reduce your lighting
- Make and use natural decorations
- Send e-cards
- Shop online
- Buy green gifts
- Donate to charity instead of gifts this year
- Make homemade presents
- Cut your own tree
- Travel less