For many, wrapping gifts is an important step in getting into the holiday spirit, but equally important nowadays are sustainable alternatives that can help lessen the non-recyclable waste we produce after every e-commerce supersale.
There’s nothing merry and bright about decking our landfills with mounds of glossy paper and tape before the start of a new year, especially now that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reported that the Philippines produces 11,953 tons of plastic per day.
We all have different roles to play in changing that, but getting into the habit of using eco-friendly gift wrapping is sure to be a festive start.
Here are 10 easy and unique gift-wrapping alternatives:
1. Support local and paper-based brands
The easiest and most hassle-free option, especially for last minute gifts, goes to eco-friendly shops like Papemelroti. Everything from their wall calendars down to their multi-compartment boxes is 100% made out of recycled paper. The best part here is that most of these products come with Filipino-themed illustrations like jeepneys, Katipuneros, and morena women clad in Maria Clara gowns and bakya slippers.
2. Use the beauty of abaca fibre to complement your gifts
There is a reason abaca fibre has been used as material for an immense range of products like furniture, handicrafts, cosmetics, and even skin care products. Because abaca is woven from the banana tree, its strength and versatility makes it a perfect container for holiday goodies. Folded with care and paired with the right ribbon, an abaca gift bag can make any simple gift look stunning and personal.
3. Opt for Kraft paper wrapping
There are various types of Kraft paper that surround us everyday from grocery bags to well-designed sandwich wraps, all economically manufactured from a biodegradable ingredient: wood pulp. This makes it one of the most accessible alternatives to glossy or metallic paper. It’s affordable, durable, and can easily be found in any store with school and stationery supplies.
The neutral tones of Kraft paper can also make for either a soothing minimalist finish or a creative challenge for those who enjoy personalizing their gifts. Who knows, maybe an old holiday card can even go with it?
4. Use fabric wrapping such as the Furoshiki method
The Japanese have mastered many artful things, including transporting goods and other precious items. The Nihongo word Furoshiki refers to both a square fabric and the craft of folding it in a decorative way. This is a simple but charming choice for those with spare cloths such as bandanas or scarves appropriately sized for gift boxes.
5. Switch to biodegradable adhesives—or use none at all!
Speaking of Japanese folding techniques, the sample video linked above demonstrates a quick and easy way to wrap gifts without relying on tape or ribbons to hold the package together. All this technique requires is a little more mindfulness of the wrapping paper measurements, as well as steady folding pressure. If that sounds like a lot of work, there’s always biodegradable tape, which is made of cellulose film and is therefore 99% compostable.
6. Repurpose some old shipping boxes
Another strange reality of the work-from-home life involves empty retail boxes stacking up in multiple backyards and garages. Upcycling these boxes and wrapping them with recyclable paper accomplishes at least two valuable things: spreading joy without adding to the holiday waste, and clearing the house of clutter just in time for the new year.
7. Upcycle the packing paper sheets that come with your parcels
Commodities don’t just come alone in cardboard boxes, but are covered in layers of tissue paper sheets that serve as extra protection. A little clue: this is especially true for new shoes and stationery products of small businesses. It might be a good idea to neatly store these sheets for when the holidays come and some last minute gifts need wrapping. It also wouldn’t hurt to take presentation inspiration from the bright and bold colors of some tissue paper sheets out there.
8. Get playful with newspapers or sheet music
Anything wrapped in yellowing paper with a ribbed brown string instantly achieves a vintage effect. Additionally, a few folds and some adhesive can make for top decorations such as rosettes, bows, or tiny scrolls with dried flowers pressed within them. Just like Kraft paper, newspaper and sheet music can be exciting if the customization is done with care.
9. Give two gifts in one using glass jars
Much like cardboard boxes, glass jars aren’t particularly difficult to find in a regular household. Those who don’t find any are still likely to acquire them from friends or nearby relatives who still have a couple lying around. These containers are perfect for small gifts and holiday sweets, especially when adorned with cinnamon sticks, candy canes, or ribbons on top.
10. Reuse cotton tote or canvas bags
Cotton tote bags are fairly easy to find, inexpensive, and long-lasting. They’re also relatively easy to sew together for those who have spare and durable fabric lying around in their homes. The arts-and-crafts minded can repurpose anything from oversized shirts to old curtains, all to put together an endearing and reusable tote bag that won't exclusive to holiday use.
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