Every year, we fall into the gift giving, shopping frenzy. Then the gifts need to be wrapped to pass on to the recipient, or sit beneath a tree or other seasonally symbolic item. Stores are rife with wrapping paper and bows and boxes and bags.
It started to bother me that I would often wrap a gift five minutes before giving it to someone and it would be unwrapped as quickly, the beautiful paper being discarded. The worst culprits threw out everything, whether paper, bow, or ribbon. Nothing was re-used because they were too lazy to deal with it.
The other end was my mother who saved every scrap of paper. When I was visiting a few years back I went through her hoard. She had paper filling two boxes, each three feet high and two feet square. There were bits of paper so crumpled and small that they couldn’t be used for anything. My mother had enough paper to wrap gifts for the next hundred years. Once I sorted her wrapping paper, there was a little pile about six inches deep.
Still, there is the issue of buying paper, wasting trees for something that won’t be used for long and really serves no utilitarian purpose but to decorate another gift. I vowed not to buy wrapping paper about ten years ago now. That’s for any gifts, whether Christmas, Hanukkah or birthday, or anything in between. I still have enough regular gift paper that I haven’t needed to buy any. Plus, people give me gifts and I save the paper and bows as much as possible.
Something else I started doing was keeping the calendars from the year before. Many of them had pictures of art or nature and I found these worked well for wrapping gifts. They’re of a more set size but I put one calendar page on one side and a different one on the other side of the gift. The paper is thicker and harder to handle. Lightly scoring it with a blade makes it bend around corners better and the gift won’t poke through the paper.
Sometimes items are just the wrong shape for the paper you have on hand. And some shapes aren’t an easy rectangle or sphere. For the holidays, I make cloth bags. Buying cheap Christmas/seasonally imprinted cotton and stitching on a string is the easiest way. If I don’t leave wrapping to the last minute, I can even put in a drawstring. The bags can then be used in other years to put gifts into or for carrying shoes, laundry, food, whatever. People have used them for different things. If I know someone is a sewer, I’ll just buy a piece of cool fabric and wrap it around the gift, making it part of the giving.
There are many alternatives to using up wrapping paper for gifts. A cookie tin, a jar, a wooden box can all be included as part of the gift and lessen the wastage on paper materials. Recycling is always there but if you don’t use the paper to begin with, then it doesn’t have to be recycled.