Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Countdown to a greener Christmas - Wrapping

So, let's kick off this week with a couple of facts about Christmas wrapping:-

According to the book "A Greener Christmas", the US alone produces an extra 5 million tons of garbage over the Christmas period, most of which is wrapping paper, packaging and cards, which could all be recycled.

It has been estimated that if every American family wrapped just three presents in reused or repurposed materials, it could save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. That is an absolutely astonishing figure! And just think how much more it would be if every gift, all over the world was wrapped in an eco-friendly way.

So, what can we do to help? Here are some ideas:-

1. Re-usable. I read on a blog ages ago that someone had a set of Christmas boxes that were used year after year, that were part of that family's Christmas tradition. I love this idea! You can of course buy lovely gift bags & boxes, and I think cake tins (or indeed any size tin) would work equally well. But how about making your own? Shoe boxes are perfect to be recovered or decorated and re-used as gift boxes.

Then, of course, there is fabric. The Japanese tradition of Furoshiki is a beautiful idea - simply a square piece of cloth that can easily be tied - and you can find tutorials for how to fold and tie them all over the internet (check out There are various sites where you can buy wrapping cloths but it is just as easy to make your own - in fact, there's hardly any "making" involved at all! It's just a square of fabric which you can hem the edges, or leave raw if you prefer. And, once again, these cloths can be re-used time and time again. Alternatively, you could buy or make a drawstring fabric bag for wrapping awkwardly shaped gifts.

2. Re-purposed. There are so many things that could be re-purposed as gift wrappings. I've already mentioned shoe boxes but how about maps, newspaper, comic or magazine pages - these can look quite stunning when tied with pretty ribbons (again, reusable!). How about wrapping your gift in a pretty tea-towel (which could also form part of the gift) or a mens shirt front?

3. Recycled. When I was a child my mum used to save all the wrapping paper to use again the following year (we had to be very careful unwrapping things!) It's not quite so fun as rippping the paper off but if you do have any large pieces left over it is definitely worth saving them. Also, good old brown packing paper - if you make sure you buy the recycled variety - works very well. If you want it to look a bit more special, why not decorate it with some Christmassy stamps?

4. If all else fails, make sure your wrapping is recyclable so that you can put it in your recycling bin after Christmas. Try to buy wrapping paper with a matt finish and no special effects (glitter, metalic finishes etc) as these make the paper un-recyclable (those kinds of of "luxury" paper also probably cost more and require more resources to produce). Try and use a minimum of sticky tape and remove any pieces of tape before you recycle. You could even use no tape at all, if you tie your package up carefully with pretty string or ribbon.

From "A Greener Christmas" - gifts wrapped in teatowel, corrugated cardboard, newspaper pages and tissue paper,

and on this page, gifts wrapped in a map, brown packing paper, fabric and a shirt front.

Japanese Furoshiki - picture from "Sewing Green" by Betz White

A shoebox covered in brown paper and decorated with stamped snowflakes

More brown paper decorated with stamps

Collection of Christmas ribbons - all of which can be reused next year!

I hope that gives you some good ideas. Happy Wrapping!

Rachel & Emma xx


Things Hand Made said...

I did this last year and we have used them for birthdays all year.
It makes you pressie pile look really stylish without any effort!

Josie said...

I've made some fabric bags for my Mum's pressie's last year so I will get them back this year but can't for anyone else as they will peek! but fabric wrapped round and tied in a knot is a good idea!
Josie x

KL said...

My blog post on this subject is here My little boy and I had fun doing this, last weekend. x

myfuroshiki said...

Great blog! I love furoshiki too and we've posted more ideas on using them on our blog - they're not just for Christmas! Happy wrapping!

Joy said...

I'm visitin here on Floss's recommendation. It is my goal to make re-usable fabric gift wraps for next Christmas. A neighbor I had over 10 years ago made a bunch of gift bags using Christmas fabric she purchased on sale after Christmas. They were beautiful. Most of them were the sized for a shirt box to fit in them.
Great Blog.
♥ Joy

the french Frog said...

I've done fabric giftbag for last christmas and I re-use them each time I have a present to offer now. Sometimes, people look at me in a weird way when I take the bag back but I don(t mind at all. I know that I am right doing that. Lovely blog