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Repurposed Wrapping

December 20, 2018

Over Christmas gatherings, some of the elders in my family caught some playful jabs for oh-so-carefully opening their presents to preserve the beautiful wrapping paper. While others intensely ripped at their presents, discarding the paper and ribbons, folks like my great-Aunt Stella carefully slit the tape and folded the paper, saving every sheet large or small for future use. Relatives reminded her that she could afford to buy new wrapping paper next December, but for our Great Depression-era relatives, it wasn’t always about the comfort of having disposable income in their later years. They grew up in a time when reuse and recycle was regular habit, and I always try to incorporate their beliefs to create a less-wasteful holiday.

I also occasionally save paper from gifts and definitely repurpose any ribbons or bows that had not been torn or crushed. Other Earth-friendly options can I have fun with are old maps, the Sunday funnies, and scarves and scrap fabric to wrap gifts. Local thrift shops usually have good selections of used children’s books, and when I find one with colorful illustrations, I tear those pages out to wrap gifts for kids. I also collect spools and remnants of fabric craft ribbon to pretty up the packages, instead of using store-bought bows. Colorful bakers twine can add a fun twist to a gift, and the string can be repurposed for kitchen use.

Sheet music makes fun wrap for gifts for the musician or music lover in the family. I’ve also torn maps out of atlases found at resale shops to wrap gifts for the explorer or someone who has a trip planned for the coming year. Holiday touches can be added with sprigs of artificial holly, a poinsettia flower, or repurposed flat ornaments like snowflakes. I’ve also found unique rolls of vintage holiday wrap at rummage sales and antique shops. I just trimmed off any yellowed edges, and the paper was still perfectly good.

Everyone might not have the time or want to use Aunt Stella’s technique of saving wrapping paper, but remember that most wrapping paper is recyclable, except for foil wrap. But ribbons and bows generally are not recyclable, and stringy objects like ribbon can get caught in machinery at materials recovery facilities. Check with your local municipality for more specific guidelines about recycling holiday wrappings.

Cheers to a joyful, safe, and eco-friendly holiday!

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.




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