Every Christmas Eve, my grandma would open her gifts ever so carefully, making sure not to rip the wrapping paper. It took foooorrreevvverr as she diligently folded every piece into a neat pile to use the next year. We all thought she was crazy. Turns out she was on to something.
During the holidays, Americans generate 25 percent more garbage than average — an extra 1 million tons a week — according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Most of that waste is gift wrap and bags. In fact, the amount of ribbon thrown away each year alone is enough to tie a bow around the Earth.
Some crafters are setting out to do something about that by offering classes on how to creatively wrap beautiful gifts using Earth-friendly materials. They say forgoing traditional wrapping paper doesn't mean you have to be a Scrooge and skip the wrapping altogether. Rather, it's an opportunity to create one-of-a-kind gifts.
We asked crafters to share their best green gift packaging tips to help reduce our environmental footprint during the holidays.
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All in the details
A piece of jewelry or a few buttons can add sparkle and elegant touches to the outside of a package. Crafters Jessica Kesterson and Amanda Rydel enhance these gifts with sweet touches of whimsy, including a muffin cup bow, doilies, a rhinestone brooch from the thrift store and clothespins to attach homemade gift tags. The gifts are wrapped in pages from an old dictionary and fabric scraps. Other Earth-friendly wrapping to consider: pages from an old calendar, blueprint paper, old newspapers or sheet music. Save holiday greeting cards each year to turn into gift tags.
Skip the paper altogether
What kid wouldn't want to find a bubble-wrapped gift under the tree? Gina Ellsworth, the store manager at ArtScraps Reuse store in St. Paul, Minn., used materials normally destined for the landfill, including damaged CDs. Other non- paper wrapping options include fabric scraps, aluminum foil, burlap or tea towels. Consider using the gifts themselves for the wrapping. For example, wrap a gift with a dress shirt and necktie.
Stamp it pretty
Kristin Knych is a member of Local Produce, a Minneapolis print and pattern design company, and she used its screen-printed paper to wrap a gift. The same look can be achieved by stamping, painting or drawing on any kind of paper. If you have children, involve them in the process by having them decorate the paper with finger paints. Consider recyclable options, such as newsprint, butcher wrap or brown paper grocery bags. Knych also adorned her gift with a homemade pompom made of yarn, and a stamped gift tag cut out of a cardboard box.
Think outside the box
When looking for a box for your gifts, check the kitchen pantry. Minneapolis crafter Anne Lies turned a cereal box inside out. The adornments are made from garden cuttings from her back yard, fastened to the box with recycled ribbon. Clean takeout containers, shoeboxes and even a Pringle's can wrapped in recycled paper or fabric will store gifts nicely.