Did you know that the three billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high? If we each sent one card less, we’d save enough cards to fill an acre of land 12 feet high.” So informs the Use Less Stuff Report. As if that weren’t enough, a spokesperson for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency says, “As we celebrate, decorate and give gifts during the holiday season, we also generate a lot of waste in the process. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, American households typically generate an extra 25 million tons of waste.” [And probably more: See “By the Numbers,” page 8.] To push back against these predictions, enterprising businesses and entrepreneurs are selling multipurpose gift wraps and containers that can be displayed, reused and re-gifted.
Danny Seo, author of the book Simply Green Giving (HarperCollins Publishers) says traditionally wrapped presents lead to a lot of unnecessary waste. Instead, the guru of green stylish living suggests giving cookies or other baked items in cigar boxes made from handcrafted wood. The author says he enjoys visiting local cigar shops where he obtains the boxes at low cost or even for free. And Seo says in his book that you can make your own “extraordinary, curly, shiny black bows by breaking open an old VHS tape and using the film inside.” (Tip from this writer: If you are trying this and never do arts and crafts, you may have initial difficulty “when you run strips of the tape along the edge of a sharp scissor.”) In short, greening up may be the cutting edge of holiday gift-giving. Here is a roundup of some eco-friendly wrapping alternatives: Record BowlsWhy not package your holiday candies or giftable trinkets in a former LP? Jeff Davis, owner of Vinylux, gathers recycled vinyl from shops, dealers and collectors and sells either “stepped” or “smooth” record bowls ($24.95-$26.99) through online vendors like rockpopgallery.com and modernartisans.com. “The original record labels are intact and represent some of the most popular music ever put on vinyl,” Davis writes on his website. “We work with LPs, 45s, and vintage album covers to create personal, unique gifts that bring vinyl records back into your home.”
Available from the online store Chewing the Cud, Give Wraps (28″ x 28″, $16) re-place wrapping paper with organic cotton cloths printed with bright, cheerful designs done in soy-based inks. Owner and designer Viola Sutanto says, “We use our Give Wraps as napkins for our table settings, scarves and burp clothes for our baby.” An onsite tutorial offers wrapping tricks. And the shop also sells stamp sets to decorate recycled Kraft paper or newspaper.
Bamboo Grow Box
Potting Shed Creations offers ready-to-grow herbs and blooms, from oregano to snapdragons, in reusable handmade bamboo containers—with a lid that inverts to be-come a saucer ($20, including bulb or seed, growing medium and directions). The 4″ high pot can be reused once growing has ended and even the ribbon it’s wrapped with is made from recycled plastic bottles.
Retro Tin Dog Treats
A striped vintage-inspired tin filled with one pound of baked bone-shaped All Natural Dog Biscuits ($12) is available from boutique dog shop Harry Barker. The biscuits are hypo-allergenic, salt-free, sugar-free, preservative-free, wheat-free and low fat, according to the website, in peanut butter and country bacon flavors.
Recycled (and Recyclable) Wrapping Paper
Still determined to wrap your gifts the old-fashioned way? Just be sure to use recycled—and recyclable—paper available from Earth Presents. Their colorful, charming designs are inspired by the artwork of students with special needs from the WVSA Arts Connection, and 5% of proceeds from sales of the holiday paper benefit the program. What’s more, the wrapping paper ($5/units of two 24″ x 36″ sheets, either rolled or folded) comes from 100% recycled content, 100% post-consumer waste and is made with vegetable-based inks (so it is 100% recyclable). Even the plastic packaging sleeves are biodegradable.