Written by Jennifer S. Li
There is so much to love about the holidays: the twinkling lights, the warm holiday drinks and seasonal treats, that indescribable warm and fuzzy feeling even when it’s cold outside. But, as a Zero-Waste store whose mission is to help people live more sustainably and thoughtfully for the future of our one and only planet, we are also unnerved by the fact that this is the most wasteful season. American households create 25% more trash than usual around this time of year, and the equivalent of 30 million trees are used for unrecyclable, single-use gift wrap that will be tossed out into landfills (Source: biologicaldiversity.org). Give the poor trees and landfills a break this year with our repurposed, recycled, Zero-Waste giftwrap guide!
Make the wrapping a thoughtful part of your gift: we took one of our beautiful, highly absorbent, 100% cotton Turkish kitchen cloths by Fashion by Cultures and used it as giftwrap. For this idea, we took inspiration from the ingenious Japanese tradition of tenugui—a long, thin hand towel that can be used for almost everything, from a decorative scarf to sweatbands for Sumo wrestlers; wrapping up a bottle of wine or transporting a picnic. Instead of trashing the giftwrap, the towel can be used again and again in the bathroom, kitchen, or elsewhere.
If you shop with Recontained, simply take one of our reusable muslin bags and throw a cute repurposed ribbon on it (this sturdy cotton ribbon came from a gift given to us many years ago). We always encourage everyone to bring their own reusable bag when shopping with us, but if you left the house without your supplies, we’re happy to send you away with one of our muslin bags: they can be reused for produce and bulk goods at the grocery store or farmer’s market; to contain small laundry items like delicate lingerie or baby socks; or for making almond or nut milk. If you’re feeling creative, we have supplies at the store that you can use to personalized the muslin bag with someone special’s name or a unique message.
Even if you’re signed up to opt out of receiving junk mail, fancy, glossy catalogues really start rolling into the mailbox this time of year. Or, maybe you have a magazine subscription you just can’t do without. We took the most festive, colorful pages we could find to create these jewel-like boxes that will be a delight to gift and open. When done exchanging gifts, recycle the repurposed pages.
Grab a brown paper grocery bag or lunch sack that you have lying around your house and then go foraging outside for giftwrap decorations! Add a cluster of holly, a sprig of rosemary, or even an interesting looking twig (ours is topped with a juicy mandarin and fennel fronds from our backyard, then tied with natural, cotton string).
Scrap fabric lying around the house or in your donation pile can also be used as repurposed giftwrap (leftover fabrics can be used as rags to clean up around the house; skip the harmful, wasteful paper towels!). Add some foraged acorns, green leaves, or, tie on one of our gold or rose gold straws for a decorative touch that’s also a useful bonus gift (make sure to grab one of our straw cleaners too!).
If you’re in a pinch and need to go to the store to pick up a roll of wrapping paper, look for ones that are made from 100% recycled paper. Or, get plain recycled Kraft paper (many inks, dyes and foils render paper unrecyclable) which is widely available and can be easily recycled and used at any time of year. And, while we certainly don’t have a Candy Spelling-style gift wrap room in our Bel-Air mansion, we do like to keep a small box of repurposed gift bags, ribbons, and paper in our closet for thoughtful zero-waste wrapping, all year round.