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How to gift-wrap without all the waste this Christmas

Here’s a guide to a lower-waste wrapping experience.

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Want to have a Christmas that doesn’t have a big impact on the environment? We’re here to help with a new series, speaking to experts about how to be as sustainable and green this festive season as you can, no matter your budget.

Green Christmas is supported by Volvo, a car manufacturer which has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040.

In the latest of our Green Christmas articles, we look at gift wrapping. How can you do it in as low-waste a fashion as possible?

YOU’VE BOUGHT THE present (or maybe you haven’t, and you’re reading this in preparation for the presents you have yet to buy. The next step, before giving it to the lucky recipient, is to wrap it.

There have long been people who have not reached for something that isn’t a tube of wrapping paper. Some wrapping paper isn’t recyclable due to having a plastic covering on top (to give it that sheen). And even if it is, why not give something a second life rather than buying something new?

Thankfully these days when it comes to wrapping there are lots of low-waste and low cost options.

What are your aims with low-waste wrapping?

  • Reuse existing items, giving them a second life
  • Use wrapping that your loved one can reuse 
  • Upcycle items that would normally go straight to recycling
  • Be creative – but keep it simple

Pat Kane, who runs minimal waste shop Reuzi, suggests using newspaper or re-using a bag instead of paper wrapping.

“Use what you have at home: there are oranges for sale in a natural raffia bag – imagine how good a book would look in one of those with some orange skins or a cinnamon stick,” she tells us.

Some options:

Old newspaper or magazines. The latter are particularly good when they are glossy editions, especially the pages with slick ads on them.

Canvas tote bags: We all have a proliferation of these. Make sure they’re clean (not the ratty ones from the back of the wardrobe). You can cut off the handles if you wish. Some reused ribbon or twine can help you fashion it into wrapping, or you can just hand over the bag as is.

Fabric scraps: You don’t have to be a seamstress to have fabric scraps lying around. Old t-shirts, for example, can be cut up into squares.

Brown paper bag: Turn your shopping bag into wrapping. Cut off the handles, and cut down the side of the bag until it’s open. Turn it inside out, and then cut to your desired shape.

An essential for making homemade wrapping look lovingly rustic is twine. Use this to secure whatever wrapping you use, and your loved one will also be able to reuse it.

Other options to add decoration:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Dried fruit
  • Herbs
  • Leftover ribbon scraps
  • Fabric scraps

Here are what some of TheJournal.ie staffers advise:

“Depending on the thing, a nice glass jar (if it’s cookies or candles or some such).”
“My dad takes great joy (more so than finding what’s inside the presents) in saving wrapping paper for years to come – there’s some in our house that is like 10 years old, folded carefully and covered in different name tags.”
“I usually make tags by writing on the scraps of wrapping paper I’m not using rather than buying stickers etc.”
“I use hessian garden twine (which I use in the, eh, garden anyway) instead of plastic ribbon, and tissue paper that any gifts come wrapped in already. Accessorised with whatever ivy is currently battling its way back up the house. Also, brown paper that small people in your household colour in. A joy for grandparent presents; a way to keep kids distracted for weeks in the run-up to Christmas.”

(Another option for those with children: Get a copy of She Can!, have the kids colour in their fave female sports stars and, handily because the pages are perforated, they can tear out their masterpieces and wrap little pressies for their pals in them.)

“Some friends made some furoshikis. It takes time to do these ones but it’s really zero-waste. The only things to remember is to get them back.”

Source: HGTV Handmade/YouTube

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