How to go eco-friendly this Christmas
Note, this is a re-post of an article we wrote for The Vendeur in 2019, a site for the seriously stylish with a social conscience.
Wrapping. Unless you are a serious ‘uber-wrapper’ (you know who you are), our research shows that wrapping tends to be the last thing we think about when it comes to gift giving. The fact that every Christmas Britons use the equivalent of 50,000 trees just in wrapping paper however has given us pause.
We're on a mission to make more people pause and re-write the definition of good giving.
In the past it may have meant neat corners, pleats and a fancy bow. We think that good wrapping should be about - is it good for the planet? A reused newspaper wrap with bold stars scrawled across it? Good wrapping. Slightly crumpled last year’s wrapping still sporting a shred of tape? Good wrapping!
Being more eco seems to be a step-by-step thing if you are anything like us. For those looking to step towards a more eco-friendly Christmas here’s some suggestions on how you can get zero-waste and delight friends and family with your creative ideas.
Experiences, not things
Increasingly people are valuing experiences over physical gifts. Appreciating less rather than more. Ironically as it is ever easier to buy and receive things, we value them less. With a bit of forethought, what experience could you give a friend that you know would be most meaningful to them? And how could you give it to them in a way that is zero-waste?
“There is a fundamental shift in...values towards experiences over things that bring happiness and well-being...The trend extends beyond just young people, to every age bracket and socioeconomic class.” Euromonitor
Thoughtfulness is love
We got curious about the best gifts people have ever received. Thank you Oprah and Quora and the many givers we’ve spoken with. It was resoundingly clear that what people valued was not the size of their present mountain (albeit we didn’t interview children), it was those gifts that showed someone really ‘got’ someone else and what mattered to them. Less, but more.
My, this is where we have heard the most stories. Some families have made it a tradition and a family challenge to see who can wrap without tape and re-use wrapping paper as many times as possible. A grandma or an uncle taught by post war austerity who was always thoughtful of gifts and wrapping and had a special dresser drawer filled with wrap to be used again.
Here are some thought starters for reuse to make your gift wrap more eco-friendly.
Upcycle upcycle upcycle
Here’s a challenge - what could you use in your recycling bin to wrap a gift right now? Probably more than you think if you paint it, stick some scrap fabric or unused clothing fabric to it or even post-it wrap it!
We wanted to share some of the most common examples of upcycled wrapping we have stumbled upon. All of them work well on their own or even better with some personalised drawing, words or stamps to give some added wow. Or simply a sprig of Rosemary or winter foliage tied on with string.
Charity shop large size books
Scraps of wrapping paper
The gift wrap itself is reusable
Getting non-traditional you can use baskets, reusable storage containers, glass jars, cute tins and bento boxes. One of my favourite stories is from a fabulous eco-wrapper who for the men in her life used variously T-shirts and socks as wrapping.
Our favourite is clearly reusable fabric gift wrap. Inspired by the Japanese art of Furoshiki, reusable fabric gift wrap is increasingly well known and available. One of the most commonly known examples is Lush for their bold and lovely reusable knot wraps. They have been using them for over 10 years!
Available in the UK in classic Japanese styles from the likes of Zusetsu or the stunningly modern and timeless Link Collective, there are many to choose from on The Fabric Wrapping Co. and Etsy.
Alternatively, here are some affordable and eco-friendly ideas for sourcing or making your own furoshiki or wrapping scarves.
Vintage scarves and handkerchiefs from flea markets
Fabric or even garments you can cut up from charity shops (if you don’t fancy sewing you can use zig-zag scissors for a no-fray finish)
Fabric scraps or unwanted clothes you have at home
Do a friends ‘swap and make’ session sharing fabric remnants and unwanted clothes and sharing around sewing skills and kit.
Wrap in tea towels. You can source simple ones and for a small outlay print them with a stamp and fabric paint for a perfectly unique and reusable gift wrap.
A final brief note on recycling. Many still don’t realise that wrapping paper or cards with foil, glitter or fancy embellishments so steering away from these options is a great first step. All that glitters is sadly not always recyclable.
We hope that’s given you some inspiration to get creative and zero-waste this Christmas and join us as we re-think and share the message of good wrapping.