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One Way to Make Christmas More Sustainable

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

‘Tis the night before Christmas, and that means family time, rest time, good eating, good tidings, and, sadly, tons and tons of material going to waste. I don’t mean to be an “eco-Grinch” (a term I read on another blog) but I do want to spread awareness about how we can make the most wonderful time of the year a sustainable time of the year. There are many moving parts that go into the holiday season, and with that comes an incredible amount of waste. For this post, we’ll be looking at wrapping paper specifically, as that is one of the largest contributions to the Yuletide waste. So, what might we do about it?

For starters, the easiest way might be to change your holiday shopping habits. That’s a pretty loaded term, but like I said above, let’s stick to wrapping paper for the sake of this article. Every year, dozens of people purchase multiple rolls of wrapping paper, just to use very little of it. There is no problem with this, assuming that these people hold onto the wrapping paper to reuse for the years to come. There is a problem however, when unused wrapping paper is thrown away after it’s no longer needed. Most of it isn’t biodegradable, and if it’s shiny or glossy, that usually means it’s not recyclable either. Many sources state that in the UK alone, 227,000 miles of wrapping paper are thrown away each year.

There is an alternative in the form of gift bags, and these can be very environmentally friendly as they can be reused and repurposed for other things. I recommend holding on to every gift bag you receive this holiday and encourage your friends and family to do the same. When the time comes next year, there won’t be a need to rush out for wrapping paper, money can be saved or used for gifts, and you also won’t have to go through the hassle of wrapping said gifts.

And speaking of gift bags, one of our favorite eco-friendly organizations, 4Ocean, produces and sells their own reusable gift bags! Check them out and see how you can give the gift of a cleaner ocean: Holiday Reusable Gift Bags – 4ocean

Here is a list of some other alternatives to wrapping paper that are more sustainable:

Eco-friendly wrapping paper: Yes, it exists! Eco-friendly wrapping paper is usually made out of cardboard paper or other recycled material that is biodegradable. There is a company called Wrappily that specializes in this exact sort of gift wrap. Many department stores are also starting to carry some of this on their shelves as well.

Fabric-wrap: This can be considered a reusable wrapping paper! And the best part is, you really only need scissors and an old shirt or blanket to use it! Simply cut your fabric, and use that to wrap your gift in. This is something we are looking into ourselves, as a gift wrap of this sort fits in perfectly with our mission statement!

Furoshiki: This is an ancient Japanese style of wrapping that is more so a practice than a physical type of gift wrap. Essentially, furoshiki focuses on using different odds and ends to create beautiful and elegant designs while simultaneously covering up a gift. Fabric, paper, yarn, string, etc. can all be combined to create furoshiki.

Newspaper and old magazines: Yes, even these can be used as alternatives to gift wrap. It’s pretty much the same thing as regular wrapping paper, just in a different medium, so why not use what you already have?

And if you really, really, really, like wrapping paper, and want to use it, that’s okay too! Just be sure to use it in an eco-friendly way. As someone who is getting ready to venture out into the real world, I can suggest a way to do this. If it’s your first year doing the holidays your way, start off by buying 3 or 4 rolls. Then, every year after, just buy 1 roll that you really, really, like. And when I say “like”, I mean as in “it wouldn’t be Christmas if you didn’t have it”-like. This way you can keep up with your preferred method of gift wrapping, and can also reduce your impact on the environment.

That's it for this week. I hope you keep some of these tips in mind, if not this year, then for the years to come! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everybody from the UP Cycle fam! Thank you for reading!

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