Our household tries to be mindful about single use packaging and to reuse and recycle wherever possible. In the run up to Christmas festivities, however, this gets to be increasingly difficult. The sheer volume of packaging on gifts and food items undermines the best of intentions. And then there’s the gift wrap…

I recently discovered that in Australia alone, more than 150,000km of gift wrap is used over the festive season. Yup, 150,000 kilometres. I found that to be a mind boggling stat – and one that’s impossible to unknow now that it’s hit my radar… as is the info on just how much of that wrapping is not recyclable.

This includes: foil, embossed, glittery, laminated or plastic wrappings, tinsel, tissue paper, cellophane, ribbons and bows. Then there’s very thin wrapping paper, smaller pieces of regular, recyclable paper and shredded paper; these are also off the list as their fibres are generally too short to be made into recycled products. Yikes.

With all this in mind, Daughter Dearest and I embarked on a mission to discover ways to eliminate those wrappings that can’t be recycled. We’ve made our own wrapping papers before, using butcher’s paper or brown paper and decorating it in various ways, but this year we’re on a mission to test out other options.

Phase one was to attend a session on sustainable gift wrappings. There we learned how to make gifts bags out of newspaper or other repurposed paper, with the help of just a little glue. The bags can be pretty much any size out of whatever paper you have to hand. I had fun putting some out of date maps to good use, making surprisingly sturdy (and attractive) bags. There are heaps of online resources for this, so track them down if you’re interested 🙂

We were also were introduced to the basics of the not-too-mysterious art of Furoshiki (Japanese fabric wrapping). This is a brilliant way to wrap gifts sustainably, using fabric (recycled, repurposed or new) instead of paper.

So phase two of operation alternative-wrappings was to hunt through my fabric stash, brave a Spotlight sale and visit a couple of Opshops. I now have a box full of pretties and plan to add a wrapping instructions with each furoshiki-wrapped gift so that my people can re-use the wraps that way if they’d like to. I’ll also include a note suggesting that, if the wrapping isn’t wanted, it can simply be ‘recycled’ back to me to me 🙂

I can’t wait to get started on the wrapping! Here’s a how-to in case you’d like to try it too.

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