Wrap It Up

By Sharon Naylor

March 25, 2011 5 min read

'Tis the season for weddings, baby showers, graduation parties and other occasions for gift giving, and the wrapping you choose can make a great impression. Impress both the recipient and Mother Nature by purchasing recycled, eco-friendly wrapping paper, bags and bows.

The best gift you can give is the gift of good health to all. The Environmental Protection Agency recently reported that gift-wrapping materials contribute to a 25 percent greater curbside trash volume between Thanksgiving and New Year's. But by using easy-to-find recycled, repurposed and organically made gift wrap, we can prevent a higher volume of trash from tarnishing the spring and summer gift giving season. And don't fear that your presents will look as if they're wrapped in your old textbook covers; eco-friendly gift wrap is smooth and shiny.

*Wrapping Paper

Michelle Keeney, owner of the stationery shop Paces Papers, says: "Eco-friendly gift-wrapping products are very popular because of the way that organic paper feels when you hold it. It's also an economical choice, but it's the textures that our customers enjoy most." Indeed, eco-smart wrapping products have evolved into smooth, shiny, intricately textured styles of imported and recycled papers.

Today's eco-minded shopper is also interested in using fair trade wrapping paper. Fair trade suppliers all over the world ensure that their products are made from sustainable materials, their processes conform to environmental regulations, and their artisans are compensated fairly and granted benefits, such as health care and lodging in some instances. Holly Bretschneider, owner of the stationery and gift store Salutations, says: "Fair trade papers are very important to so many customers. They ask specifically whether a product line is FSC-certified, meaning that it has certification that it has been made from sustainable products. The issue of fair trade is a driving force in stationery products, and I find myself buying a lot of fair trade products for gift wrap, such as beautiful handmade Nepalese papers inked with vegetable dyes."

Wrapping paper may be made from eco-friendly bamboo, hemp or banana fiber paper (as seen at http://www.PaperMojo.com), a particularly impressive eco-production method that turns wasted bark from banana production into decorative paper. Look also for paper products made from 100 percent recycled paper, qualifying them as "treeless" sources of wrapping paper. You'll even find wrapping paper made from repurposed tires.

Designs are created on many types of wrapping paper using soy-based inks and vegetable dyes, eliminating the harmful chemicals in old-fashioned inks and allowing the new class of eco-friendly wrapping paper to stand out in bold, fashionable and attractive designs.

*Check Out Jute Boxes

Gift boxes and bags made from woven jute, hemp or other sturdy natural materials make natural carrying cases for gift presentation and allow the receiver to either keep the box for display or repurpose it as the packaging for the next gift he will give.

*Tie One On

Choose environmentally friendly ribbon, wrapping and twine made from recycled aluminum foil, hemp twine (http://store.GlobalHemp.com) or recycled silk sari yarn (http://www.NearSeaNaturals.com). Tying gifts is a top green living trend, now that we know most tape is not recyclable and complicates the recycling of gift wrap and other paper on which it's affixed.

*Make the Wrapping a Gift

In place of a paper gift bag, place your gift in a reusable fabric tote bag, choosing a stylish color motif. "Pairing the eco-friendly tote with the theme of the party, such as a candy-colored blue for a bridal shower, is a popular trend," says Angie Zigrossi, marketing manager for Envirosax. You also will find eco-friendly pouches and fair trade handmade wallets, which can be the perfect reusable item to use to wrap gift cards. If the gift is a collection of plants or seeds, stow them in a pretty terra-cotta pot, part of the present.

*Skip the Bow

Though you can find eco-friendly bows on the market, that adhesive can form a sticky situation with recycling. Instead of the bow, use ribbon made from fair trade fabric and earth-friendly silk, cotton, hemp or bamboo, and tie on a small gift, such as a toy for a baby shower, a piece of curly willow you've cut from your yard, or a measuring spoon set for a bridal shower.

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