10 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Wrapping Paper
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Ahh, the holidays are fast approaching. So, you've decided to go green this year: you've perused our green gift guide, donated to some great green charities, and now you've got a pile of gifts that need to be wrapped. But wait! You've been so good keeping eco-friendly this year, can you really stomach the thought of using store-bought wrapping paper? Ugh! It's just so wasteful, isn't it? Well, I've compiled for you a list of great, green gift wrapping alternatives--that way each present can be a gift to the environment too.1. OUT-DATED MAPS
You know you've got these lying around--in your car, in that cabinet drawer that's only opened twice a year when you're looking for something--and why? Unless you have a deep suspicion that Russia will eventually revert back to the USSR, what are you hanging onto these for? Or for you city dwellers--urban development is pretty effective at making maps obsolete, right? If you find a map with a big empty space where the Americas should be, don't use it--it may be worth something.
2. PAPER BAGS
Remember the olden days when you used to take home those brown paper bags from the grocery store--you know, before you got your reusable canvas bags? I'm sure you've got a few of them still lying around, waiting to be put to some good, green use! Well, cut the sides and make a sheet out of them to wrap your gifts in. The brown a little too dull for gift-wrap? Break out the crayons and personalized the heck out of it--sure, you may not be able to draw a decent Santa Claus to save your life, but the who cares?
Ahh, the classic 'funny-pages' gift-wrap. It's colorful, it's cute, it's practical. And just think, if the gift is a bit disappointing, Garfield will be on hand to brighten the spirit! You could even ask the newspaper printer for the "but ends" of the newsprint roll--the extra paper left-over from a printing cycling. Now that's green! Break out the crayons to jazz these up too.
One factor that makes wrapping paper so difficult to reuse is the fact that it's usually torn to bits. This is not a problem when you're wrapping your gifts with fabric. See what you've got lying around or go the fabric store and pick up some neat patterns. The fabric square will be like an extra gift for your friends and family--maybe they'll be so impressed they'll use the piece when wrapping their next gift. Some Web sites offer patterns to make reusable gift-bags from fabric as well.
A lot of people feel like they still have to use wrapping paper even when the gift is put in a box. Why? Boxes are a classic and easily reusable way to go--and some even come in with attractive patterns already printed on them. If not, a tasteful bow or ribbon is all the added flair it needs.
6. OLD CALENDERS
You know the one from 1997 that has the ponies on it? Or 2004 was a good one too--the one with the dogs dressed as people--remember? These are a great source of large sheets of paper that have virtually no use to you now. Just open it up to June, pop the staples out from the fold and, presto!--you've got a 6 or 7 ways to remind your friends of that year you were obsessed with Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
7. CHILDREN'S ART
What better way to show your young Picasso just how much you appreciate their artistic ability than to use their masterpieces as wrapping paper? Your recipients, too, are bound to take joy in seeing your little one's abstract rendering of a dog, or a house...or whatever that's supposed to be. Maybe they'll like them so much they'll be careful not to tear it--bringing some civility to the holidays. Be sure to consult the artist before using their work--he or she may want to hang onto some pieces from their 'blue-period'.
8. WALLPAPER SAMPLES
Remember when you were planning on redecorating the living-room with wallpaper and couldn't quite decide on the right pattern? You were given all those samples to take home to help you make up your mind--where did you put those things? Most paint or home-supply stores have books and books of wallpaper samples that are out of stock that would make easy gift-wrap for small or medium sized gifts. Give them a visit.
9. JARS & CANS
If you've got a gift that's small enough, why not toss it into an empty food jar or coffee can instead of a box? Decorate the jar with fabric or recycled paper, or just toss a bow on it. The jar comes in handy when giving candies or other homemade treats--and again, you can use it over and over.
10. BE CREATIVE
None of these ideas really exciting you? Go ahead and make your own wrapping paper from any unused material you've got lying around. A thorough cleaning of your work area will no doubt turn up countless scraps of paper that can be reused: expired coupons, magazines, assembling instructions for your bookshelf, the troubleshooting guide to the laserdisc player, etc. Give them another life! Not only will your friends and family applaud your creativity, it will show them how easy it can be to go green.
For more ideas, check out: Clever, Pretty Eco-Wrapping for Your Christmas Presents
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