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Wrapping Paper Alternatives for the Holiday Season

In the U.S., annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons and from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, as household waste increases by more than 25%!

With the gift wrap industry now accounting for nearly $2.6 billion annually in retail sales, we can only image how many unnecessary paper products are being bought each year to wrap up gifts.

The kicker is that a majority of the wrapping paper we buy usually cannot be recycled because it is often dyed and laminated. It can also contain non-paper additives, such as gold and silver coloring, glitter and plastics. Also, the paper can be very thin and contain few good quality fibers that are used for recycling. Another problem that arises is that tape that is stuck on the wrapping paper itself does not allow that paper to be completely recyclable.

While I do admit there is nothing better than ripping open a present in under 5 seconds flat, all that hard work that went into the careful wrapping of the gift often goes unnoticed. So why spend money and resources on ribbons, wrapping paper and gift cards, when we can make equally pleasing wrapping paper from stuff we have lying around the house.

Here are some suggestions this year to lighten not only your footprint on the planet, but also your wallet.

Wrapping Paper Alternatives:

Newspaper: Definitely the cheapest way to go. While using the cartoon section may be a little tacky, opting for a black and white motif can look very classy and elegant.

Old maps: We’re in a digital age people! No one uses paper maps anymore! So find your outdated road atlas and start cutting.

Leftover wallpaper: After a home redecorating project, save your wallpaper scraps. We often are forced to overestimate wallpaper area so we have enough to cover the walls, but we usually do not end up with enough to do anything else with it. Save this paper to wrap up gifts. While the style might not compliment a holiday motif, you can still use this paper for shower and birthday gifts.

Paper Bags: Paper shopping bags can be turned inside out and then decorated with paint, stickers, cut-out paper snowflakes and other holiday decorations. This alternative is great for kids as they can personalize their gifts even more.

Because the size of these alternatives are not very large, or wide in size, it may be more difficult to wrap larger presents. So in the event that you are going to need some wrapping paper this season, opt for eco-friendly varieties that can be recycled and try not to waste any of the paper.

Happy Wrapping Everybody!

See more Green Gift Wrapping Ideas at Sierra Club Green Home.

Wrapped gifts image via Shutterstock.

by Allison Winter

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 at 15:43
  • Dec 19th, 2012 at 21:55 | #1

    Another fun wrapping idea is to use a scarf or kerchief. They come in all shapes, colors, and patterns. The best part is when they are done serving the purpose as wrapping paper they can be used as a fashionable accessory.

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