All of my memories of Christmas as a child involve a living room floor covered in wrapping paper. When the next trash day comes around, the street is lined with rubbish bins filled to the brim with wrapping paper, gift bags, strings and bows. Wrapping and giving gifts can be a wonderful experience, but it is all too often filled with unnecessary waste.
There are so many unique ways to beautifully wrap a gift without any waste at all. Reused materials, thrifted materials, recyclable or compostable materials are all fair game. You probably already have a handful of wrapping materials in your home! As an added bonus, uniquely wrapped gifts add a personal touch. In some cases, the wrapping can even double as an extra gift.
There is a really beautiful Japanese method of wrapping gifts known as furoshiki. It’s a simple, eco-friendly way of wrapping gifts in fabric. Traditionally, the color and the design chosen were meaningful, but you can use any type of cloth you have on hand. It adds an extra personal touch if the cloth is the receiver’s favorite color, material, or pattern. A simple google search will show dozens of unique ways of tying cloth around different objects. Try using vintage scarves, old sheets, or scraps of fabric from a thrift store.
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Other interesting materials include old paper grocery bags, tea towels, handkerchiefs, glass jars, beeswax wraps, newspapers, recycled paper, a blanket, or a bag that doubles as an extra gift. Gifts can be tied with twine, hemp, or strips of scrap fabric. For decoration, try using a card written on recycled paper, fallen branches from evergreens, twigs, pinecones, pressed flowers, or vintage jewelry. For those with a bit of patience and a steady hand, the receiver’s name can even be stitched into the fabric!
A unique alternative to traditional wrapping paper is seed paper, which is made from biodegradable materials and is embedded with seeds. When planted, the seeds sprout into flowers, herbs, or vegetables!
Too many gifts get tossed into the back of a closet never to be seen again. This only adds to the waste problem, as many of these eventually end up in the landfill. Birthdays and holidays can be difficult for those who are making the change to zero waste. You want to show your loved ones that you thought of them without having to purchase unnecessary items. Luckily, there are some easy ways to give gifts from the heart without creating extra waste.
Focus on food that lasts a while, such as canned goods. Homemade pickles, jams, jellies, sauces, etc are wonderful gifts that guests can use at any time. If you grew the produce yourself or picked the berries locally, this adds another dimension to the gift. Wrap a collection of these up nicely with recycled materials. The receiver can then reuse the jar for any purpose!
Give the Gift of Experience
Have you and your significant other spent months talking about a trip to the coast but can’t seem to fit it into your busy schedules? Carve out a weekend where you surprise them with this trip. Pack a picnic, bring a cozy blanket and watch the sun set over the sea. This can be adapted to whoever you are purchasing a gift for. Perhaps your friend keeps dreaming of a camping trip in the mountains, or your mother keeps talking about taking a cooking class. Whatever it is, gift them this experience instead of a wrapped gift.
DIY has come a long way from those hand-drawn cards you brought home from elementary school. Get creative and make a frame for a meaningful photo, whip up a batch of handmade soap with the recipient’s favorite essential oils, or make a luxurious body scrub with coffee grounds.
Offer a Service
If DIY really isn’t your thing, you can always offer your services. Do you have nieces and nephews? Offer to babysit one night a week for a month. Are you great at cooking? Offer to cook someone dinner for a week. Are your in-laws too busy to finish everything on their to-do list? Offer to run some errands for them or straighten up their home. For your significant other, why not pamper them with a spa night at home? This can apply to any skill or service you can offer, including pet sitting and yard work.
By thinking outside of the box, you can offer friends and family more meaningful gifts while reducing excess waste in the process.
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