Wrapping presents wisely

Photo: istockphoto.com/Gabor Izso/ Onur D'Angel
On Christmas morning, we usually have a small mountain of discarded wrapping paper that end up in the garbage instead of the recycling bin. Some types of wrapping paper aren't recyclable! You don't have to give up wonderful Christmas traditions of the beautifully-wrapped presents under the tree, but with some creativity you can be environmentally friendly and have those presents. Your presents may be prettier than they've ever been. Greener alternatives Instead of using traditional wrapping paper, use pre-existing items from around your home. Try wrapping gifts with pages from fashion catalogues, fancy Christmas advertisements, newspaper cartoon strips, old calendars, left-over wallpaper and children's art. You can also cut up parts of old holiday cards you've received to make tags for the presents. If you have a large gift, then why not try covering it with some seasonal material? Your local fabric store is sure to have some end-fabric that you can pick up for pennies. Add some ribbon and you have a green gift. Bags vs. paper Putting gifts in colourful bags is more environmentally friendly than wrapping them with paper -- plus it's way easier! Bags are usually recyclable and definitely reusable. They can be used for many holiday seasons before getting too torn and tattered. And remember, you can also save and reuse wrapping paper -- as long as it isn't torn too much in the throes of holiday excitement. Many retailers are selling cloth bags that can be used over and over again. Gift boxes made from recycled cardboard are also a great option. Wrapping a gift with a gift Try wrapping presents with scarves, aprons, placemats, and dishtowels. You can often find all of these items with colourful holiday prints on them. You can be even more eco-friendly by buying items that are made from all-natural materials. Rawganique sells aprons, dishtowels, oven mitts, placemats, tablecloths and pillowcases, all made from either hemp or organic cotton. Any of these items could be used to wrap a gift. Buy 100% recyclable If you are going to buy wrapping paper, try buying 100% recyclable and even better, made from 100% recycled materials -- this is also a good rule for holiday cards. Fish Lips Paper Designs sells holiday paper printed on 100% recycled paper with soy-based inks. Paporganics sells hemp gift wrap printed with 100% vegetable inks, and sells 100% biodegradable natural ribbon. No wrapping required Probably the easiest way around wrapping is to give a gift that doesn't need to be wrapped. Concert tickets, gifts cards or donation gifts can all be placed under the tree is a lovely envelope saving you the trouble of wrapping. Shannon Wilmot is a freelance writer based in Toronto.