Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper is something I’ve been meaning to deal with since before Christmas – then I realised I had almost an entire roll of Christmas wrapping paper left over from the previous year, and decided to make do with that for the time being. We do have a good policy in our house of keeping all wrapping paper that could possibly be reused, and sellotape is picked off the rest, which is then recycled. But it would be great to go one step further and start wrapping things up in an environmentally friendly way!

One of the biggest concerns I have is with sellotape (or sticky tape, adhesive tape, whatever you want to call it). I’ve done a bit of googling (as usual!), because I wasn’t sure exactly what it was made of. Originally, it was made from natural cellulose and rubber resin, I think, but of course it’s now generally all synthetic. I think one of the best ways to combat sticky tape if you’re not sure about it is to stop using it! You can tie up parcels etc. with ribbons instead (ribbons may be a topic for another post!) – although if you’re sending something in the post then you’ll want something that can hold it together a bit more securely. My favourite sticky tape alternative is this Eco Paper Packing Tape. (Whilst we’re on the subject of sticking, I can’t resist telling you about Paperchase’s Eco Glue: I keep going back to look at it – when I next want to buy some glue this will be top of my wishlist.)

And then of course there’s the wrapping paper itself. I’ve heard various suggestions in the past, including old newspapers, brown paper, recycled wrapping paper. I don’t have an exhaustive list of things to try (I would be here forever!) but if you’re looking for some starting points then try these:

  • Make your own – use old sheets of paper and stamp or draw pictures or patterns on them (great if you have young children too!)
  • Use old newspapers – thanks to ljpaul5b3g for this one (and for the above suggestion too!)
  • Reuse what you’ve already got, and what you get given.
  • Try out some post-consumer paper – have a look at Re-wrapped or Paperchase’s recycled kraft wrapping paper as a start.
  • If you want to go for something a bit different, what about Lush’s Knot-wrap gift wrap? Although if you like that sort of thing you could always made your own using any leftover materials you have at home.

I hope this post gives you more ideas about how you can change the little things in your life to more eco-friendly alternatives! It would be great to hear about the alternatives you use!

4 thoughts on “Wrapping Paper

  1. My friend gets old maps and atlases to use as wrapping paper, if she decides a gift really needs wrapping at all. She is in charge of incoming donations at our library, so she has easy access to donated out of date maps, but she also buys some at second hand shops. Even people who hate cutting up old books would agree that an atlas with the USSR in it isn’t much use to anyone. It’s an awesome look, and she often chooses the map based on the person she is gifting to.
    We also use variations on the Japanese idea of furoshiki – fabric/bandana squares/scarves used to wrap gifts. They can be part of the gift, or they can be something that gets returned. I think in some cases they could be used to conceal the gift until the moment of giving, and then the giver unwraps the furoshiki and hands the gift over – depending on the social circumstances and whether unwrapping is part of the fun, or whether the recipient would actually want the piece of fabric. If you haven’t seen furoshiki before you should google it – there are books and websites. The Japanese government is trying to revive the practice to reduce the tremendous plastic bag usage there. You can use furoshiki to carry things in your daily life too. My friend and I have been known to use them as bags, purses, reusable shopping bags, packing aides. They are excellent for carrying a bottle or two of wine too.

    • I hadn’t thought of using old maps – that’s a good idea. Think it depends on what you can get hold of! I agree that I would much prefer cutting up old maps to old books – and as you say, maps get outdated so quickly anyway. I love that your friend tries to match the map to the receiver!
      I love the idea of furoshiki, especially because they could be endlessly reused. I will definitely check that out. At the moment I’m going through lots of old wrapping paper that has already been used once (or multiple times), since I already have it. Thanks so much for the tip 🙂

      • I have a big stash of re-used wrapping paper too. Or rather, a single bag that is more than enough. I have relatives who are extremely wasteful with wrapping, so I try to salvage what I can (without being rude) and I ask them not to overwrap things for me. I’m still using the tissue paper I salvaged from my 1 yr old nephews gifts and he’s about to turn 5! and what 1 year old cares about color coordinated tissue wrapping clothing gifts anyway?!
        btw you can make your own furoshiki out of fabric. It helps if it is fairly lightweight. But it’s an awesome green solution.

      • Ha, can’t believe you still have that tissue paper! That’s really great you’ve managed to reuse it for so long. A lot of my relatives like to overdo it with the sellotape which means it’s hard to get off the paper and then there’s less paper to be reused, which can be frustrating. Definitely a good idea to salvage what you can; if they won’t reuse it, you might as well! Thanks for the tip, I might try that 🙂

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