I am a zero waste beginner who is taking it one small step at a time. In 2018 I'll be sharing some ideas and products that I've tried along the way. This holiday season, I focused on zero waste gift wrapping. I didn't completely succeed--there was still some trash--but it was much less than we've had in previous years. It was a fun challenge to find new options to wrap our Christmas presents. I tried a few different methods to wrap gifts. Here are a few of my thoughts about zero waste gift wrapping:
1. Start with the gifts: One way to reduce waste with gifts is to buy second-hand gifts because they don't come with packaging. I shopped at consignment sales and used some hand-me-downs for the majority of our gifts.
I also discovered Green Toys and absolutely love their products and their company. Check out their completely recyclable packaging. There is no tape and no twist ties so it's a cinch to open too.
I kept the number of gifts down, focusing on finding a few special items for my kids and making memories playing with those items. Keeping a minimalist mindset is the biggest change I think you can make in reducing your waste, The less you consume, the less you throw away. I found a few well-made toys that will last for years rather than several that will be tossed in a couple months.
2. Reusable doesn't mean shabby: When I first considered zero waste gift wrapping, I pictured gifts that were wrapped but not very festive or pretty. I discovered how easy it is to find reusable containers or reuse other materials to make really attractive gifts. For a few of our awkwardly-shaped gifts, I used brown paper bags and festive ribbon, giving them a rustic look. I have some Christmas stamps that I could have used to decorate them even more, but didn't have the energy this year. This paper was recycled once gifts were opened.
I found a collection of fancy boxes that I used for most of the gifts. They're of varying sizes and colors and all I had to do was make small paper tags to identify the recipient. Be sure to find sturdy, well-made boxes so they'll last. I am going to reuse mine to store my ornaments, so they won't even take up extra space in my garage. The other gem I found was decorative cloth bags. Some items are strange shapes or dimensions that wouldn't fit in a box. These bags worked perfectly and all you do is tie the drawstring shut. They'll be used for storing stockings, lights, and other holiday decor.
On Christmas morning, all we threw away was some wrapping paper from gifts others had given us, a few pieces of ribbon, and packaging from one of the gifts itself. I hope to find a couple larger bags so that next year I won't even need to use brown paper,
3. Easier & faster: I was surprised how easy it was to wrap gifts this year. Using wrapping paper and tape is really time-consuming for me. Boxes and bags take just moments and you're done. I set aside a whole evening to wrap gifts but finished far sooner than I expected.
4. No one noticed: I thought my kids might be a bit disappointed with the wrapping this year, but nobody seems to notice. They were just excited to play with new toys. For my younger ones, it actually made opening gifts easier and my toddler played with the empty boxes more than her gifts.
Zero waste gift wrapping is an easy change to make. Once you've got the supplies, you're set for years! One area I'd like to make more zero waste next year is stockings. It's hard to find small treats and other items that don't create trash, and since my kids still believe in Santa, making homemade items may not work because they'd probably connect the dots. Any ideas are appreciated,
Happy New Year!