It's that time of year again: the holidays! Spending, wrapping, giving, receiving, eating, preparing ... along with all of those fun things comes an abundance of something unpleasant: waste. Wrapping paper generates more than 25 percent more waste during the holiday season than at any other time throughout the year. While you're keeping your house neat and tidy through the holidays, don't forget to help keep our bigger home -- Earth -- clean, as well. Keeping the environment in mind, here are some eco-friendly gift wrap ideas. These brilliant ways to wrap your gifts in colorful, bright and eco-friendly wrapping will surely warm hearts but won't heat up the planet.
• Instead of gift wrap, give gifts in pretty gift bags. These are more easily reused than gift wrap since they're not instantly torn apart. Or, even better, reuse shopping bags, and add your own artistic style. Some colorful raffia or hemp twine tied around aluminum foil balls adds a festive flair. Simple and superb!
• Make your own colorful cloth bags. All that's needed is some colorful felt or thick, bright cloth and a needle and thread. Even fabric glue works! Here's
a simple and green way to make cloth gift bags. Sweet and thoughtful! And, of course, reusable.
• This gift wrap will make the recipient pause for a thoughtful moment before that "Ah!" moment of tearing into an irresistibly wrapped gift: take a simple brown gift bag or solid colored/white paper. Wrap/bag the gift, then write interesting quotes on it with a marker, pen or paint. Or, even better, add a poem hand written in bright colors. Even stenciled holiday decorations or hand paintings add a unique and personal touch.
• Looking for something more lighthearted? Reuse comics from the newspapers to wrap the gift to give your recipient a good laugh before even opening the gift.xc
• Eco-friendly filler: Use paper that's shredded from the shredder. (It's difficult to recycle, so this is a great way to get some use out of it after it's been shredded.) Or, use biodegradable packaging peanuts (if you're shipping) made from corn. (No Styrofoam!)
• Make the wrapping a part of the gift: a bucket or watering can is easy to fill with gardening supplies, and a mixing bowl or stockpot makes the perfect package for your favorite cook. Or perhaps use a beach towel to artfully wrap beach supplies, or a cute baby blanket to wrap baby stuff, all tied with a pink or blue ribbon. Creative and cool!
• Gift baskets are great, too. They are easily found in thrift stores and even in dollar stores. They can be put to use in a myriad of ways after the holidays, too.
• Some of the best decorations for your gifts can be found at a very short distance -- perhaps your own backyard! Berry clusters, branches, pinecones and even shells are beautiful and bring a touch of nature to gift wraps. Old silk flowers or fresh ones from your backyard make great embellishments, too.
Photos: eco_monster/Flickr and chatirygirl_Flickr