Every year at Christmas, here in France alone, 20,000 tonnes of gift wrap are sold and immediately thrown away. So is it possible to celebrate Christmas without multicoloured wrapping paper and ribbon? Yes, thanks to clever eco-friendly wrapping tips!
The traditional tied wrap: Furoshiki
This Japanese tradition consists of wrapping the gift in fabric tied in various ways depending on its shape. It then looks like a little bundle or parcel topped with a pretty bow. Once gifted, the Furoshiki can be used as a scarf, napkin or cloth!
Re-usable gift wrap
How about making the gift wrap part of the gift?
A nice box: You can, for example, use a pretty stationery shop box made from decorated cardboard, which the person can keep…. Or re-use as a gift box! They are particularly handy for gifts for young children, since they can open them easily and then keep them as bedroom decoration.
A fabric bag: The same goes for a cotton (tote) bag, in which case you just need to tie the handles together. This is perfect for wrapping up anything from a bottle to a small item. Shops sometimes give them away for free. In that case, don’t forget to pass when offered gift wrap at the till, and the shop’s branded bag. With a tote bag there’s no need for anything else except a sheet of tissue paper to protect the item(s), in the case of beauty products for example. The tote can then be re-used however the recipient wishes, as a sports kit bag, shoe bag or shopping bag.
A fabric bag: These are perfect for tidying away small items or underwear. The advantage of the fabric bag is that it can be used in multiple ways afterwards. As long as it is opaque, it makes very good gift wrap for jewellery or beauty products. Watch out for see-through ones that crackle when handled, as they are made from polyester, a synthetic fibre made out of plastic threads! To find cotton ones, try organic brands, craftspeople or shops specialising in natural products, or repurpose bags meant for loose dry goods.
Bee wrap or beeswax-coated cloth: known as an eco-friendly alternative to kitchen cling film, these squares of coated fabric also make pretty gift wrap, while serving as an introduction to the zero-waste approach!
Repurposed items as gift wrap
Whatever you do, don’t throw away these types of paper, which can be used as gift wrap:
Coloured pages from a magazine: for large gifts this is a bit tricky without sticky tape, but perfect for small gifts. Just fold the pages like envelopes.
Newspaper or text pages from a magazine: obviously, they need customising to look nice. You can fold them in different ways to make little pouches, add decorative stamps and use bulldog clips or even wooden laundry pegs to close up your parcels.
Kraft paper: sometimes used by shops themselves, it’s perfect for any gift: a candle, photo frame, book, etc. It’s easy to fold and strong enough to wrap boxed games. You can then decorate it.
A decorated egg carton or shoe box: go for a white one and decorate it with drawings, magazine cuttings, or why not try natural trim like leaves or shells?
A wooden crate: Wine dealers often throw crates away once they have taken delivery of a shipment. Why not ask if they can let you have one as a container for gift wrapping? Here’s hoping that your recipient doesn’t jump to conclusions, eagerly expecting to find six bottles of the good stuff inside!
To tie up these parcels use fabric ribbons, or why not try fabric strips cut from remnants, or from an old T-shirt? Or you can use string or raffia.
For eco-friendly wrapping, let creativity take centre stage. If you want to do something different, there are plenty of ideas to try. You just need to take the time to find a little material that’s fit for repurposing. This is a good homecraft exercise which will liven up your gifts, and a good opportunity to shore up your ecological commitments.