one green planet
one green planet

While we all love the holidays, or at least the gift-giving and — perhaps especially — gift-getting part of the whole thing, it can be a little disconcerting to consider just how much waste we produce in our annual celebrations. Old decorations, paper plates, disposable flatware, and all the wrapping paper — after parties at the office, parties at the relatives, parties at the neighbors, the full shebang adds up to a heap of waste.

But, we don’t necessarily have to create so much garbage. Reducing our purchasing and discarding of wrapping paper is an easy way to begin to combat all this mess we are making each December. There are loads of alternative things we can use for wrapping paper, things that are already around, that can be composted or burned cleanly for kick-starting the fireplace on a blustery winter’s eve. All it takes is a tinge of consciousness about how and with what we are wrapping.

1. Newspaper

Most of us are still familiar with these old things, and though they aren’t as ubiquitous as they once were, there are still enough around out there to pick up a few for wrapping gifts. The comics work particularly well. In a pinch, for small items, magazine pages also do a dandy job. If having Chatty Cathy sprawled across you spouses new underpants doesn’t seem ideal, check the business section, or check out this handy DIY newspaper gift bags.

2. Grocery Bags

As if we needed another reason to choose paper over plastic, paper grocery bags make fantastic wrapping paper. Not only are they luxuriously thick, but the inside is plain brown, allowing us to either write a message directly on the gift, doodle some décor of our own, or really bring out the sparkle in that gift bow. These are the absolute ideal for gifts that children are giving. Pass them the crayons and let them really personalize it.

3. Printable Wrapping Paper

Perfectly suited for those who dutifully save printing paper that has been blemished by the last two lines of that e-ticket or got smudge in the process, we can now feel vindicated by using the other side of the paper to print out holiday wrapping paper, reaping the benefit of being green and yet still seeming seasonally hip. There are loads of printable wrapping paper patterns out there to choose from.

4. Reusable Cloth Bags

For those into crafting or those who have recently redecorated, it’s a bit of task, but it’s possible to use cloth — old curtains, tablecloths, cloth napkins, or even t-shirts — to create reusable cloth gift bags. Either cut them into a shape that can cover the present and be tied into a bunch at the top, or for those really handy folks, stitching a pouch could be an option. Old cloth holiday napkins are aces for this. Or, scarfs. Heck, if the present fits you could even use socks!

5. Mason Jars

Giving food is probably the right move in most cases of gifting. People generally love to snack, they will really appreciate the effort someone having done something homemade, and no one is left having to return something or stuff their attics. For those making food, using Mason jars or recycling jars is a great way to pass on the joy. A snack, a jar, and a bow — that’s the holidays done simple but well.

6. Food Packaging (Boxes)

Let’s be honest: For many of us, wrapping presents is no easy task. The tape gets tangled. The folds never seem to work quite right. Well, there is another way. For those who do have cereal boxes or whatever other kind of food boxes that might crop up, here is a pretty clever way for turning them into gift boxes that require no tape. Don’t worry it won’t look like a box of granola. Though, that doesn’t sound like a bad present.

7. Reused Wrapping Paper

Or, when it comes down to it, most of us receive so many gifts that have been wrapped in store-bought, appropriately themed motifs that we could simply save that paper and use it to wrap the gifts we are giving. Hey, people may scoff at the petty cheapness, but we are planetary warriors here. Since when do we not do something that helps the planet because people scoff? There is nothing wrong with reusing. In fact, it comes before recycling.

So, it doesn’t have to be so tough. And, it doesn’t mean that gifts have to be boring or lack a certain holiday pizzazz. In fact, people will come to recognize that special brand of wrapping that defines the best kind of green the holiday season can have. That’s something really special.

Lead image source: Shutterstockphoto3/Shutterstock