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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wrapping Paper

Although I am frugal to the core, it’s the environment that prevents me from buying wrapping paper for presents.  I just had a celebration with my family and while my dad was putting away used wrapping paper for the garbage, I was grabbing the largest pieces to reuse at a later date.
The truth is, wrapping paper has too much ink to be recycled – if you check your city’s guidelines for paper recycling, chances are there is a notice to NOT put wrapping paper in your recycling bin.  So it is produced by factories, producing pollution in its production, then shipped to the stores (again, producing pollution in its transportation), and then it ends up in the garbage because it cannot be recycled.  OK, you can say that many products create as much pollution in their making and transportation.  However…
We buy wrapping so that it can be ripped and thrown out.  There is no other reason to buy wrapping paper.  As well, most of us (c’mon, be honest), wrap presents HOURS before they are opened, not days or weeks!  So all this pollution for a few hours of looking at boxes that look pretty.  Really? is this reasonable?
I have, for the past few years, refused to buy wrapping paper.  It’s a matter of principle and what I am doing instead is not pollution-free, but it’s a step in the right direction.
So what do I do instead? A variety of things.  Read on.
- I use colorful paper we already have at home: catalogues are great – glossy, colorful, and they end up in the recycling bin at the end anyway.  I try to match the catalogue with the recipient (my youngest daughter gets pages of the American Girl Doll catalogue).  Is it environmentally perfect? No.  I should not be getting these catalogues in the first place but look up what I want on the internet instead.  But assuming that we do receive the catalogues, it’s good.
- I use newspaper pages.  They ARE boring, but I tie a colorful piece of yarn (from my knitting projects) so it’s not so bad.  The newspaper hides the content of the gift, which is the most important role of wrapping paper.
- I use packing paper.  This is the paper that comes in boxes when we mail-order something (like from Amazon).  The paper is plain, of boring color (beige, white, grey, brown) but it’s not printed.  I flatten the paper with my hands, cut to size and wrap the present.  Then I use markers to write celebration messages, the recipient’s name, etc. all over the paper.
- I reuse gift bags and wrapping paper.  I keep gift bags and large pieces of wrapping paper that I receive and re-use them.  I am careful when opening presents to preserve the wrapping paper and I am also careful with the tissue paper used in gift bags so I can re-use it.
- Finally, I’m very creative; I use colorful boxes such as paper tissue boxes (so I only have to cover the opening); I use used mylar balloons that I cut to use a wrapping paper.  I use remnants of fabric that I have around the house (ok, this only work if you sew).  Brown paper lunch bags are great – they are very cheap, they are not only recyclable but also compostable.  Snail mail envelopes – large ones, used, can be decorated.  Plastic shopping bags, from stores: if it’s a ‘status store’, like Aeropostale, I love using these bags for nieces and nephews; as well, Target store bags are white and red, very Christmas-y.  I also use old posters and old calendars with pretty photos.
So, next time you need to wrap a gift, think twice: about the environment, and about your wallet!

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