The holidays are a time when most Americans (and I’m assuming Chattanoogans too) create more waste than in any other time of year. One contributor to this waste is, you guessed it, wrapping paper.
According to this article on USA today, China is getting fed up with us sending all our poorly sorted recyclables to them. One unrecyclable item can ruin a whole bale of recyclables! So, if you do nothing else this year, DO NOT RECYCLE your bows, things held together with glue, glitter, Christmas cards with shiny paper, anything shiny, and definitely definitely not any ribbons (they can actually damage the equipment at the sorting center). Even tape is made out of plastic (and not recyclable)!
And if sending all that stuff to the landfill makes you sad, you are in good company. How about just avoiding it in the first place? You probably already have more ribbons and bows than you need stashed in a closet somewhere to reuse. I am not going to rehash all the different zero-waste materials you can use because there is a fabulous post here from Going Zero Waste that I encourage you to read.
For how to wrap without tape, there are a plethora of videos out there showing how to wrap a present by simply folding the paper the right way around the gift and tucking a flaps into the folds, I like this one, but there are lots more. There is also the Japanese Furoshiki method of using a cloth to wrap things, which also works great. You can google “Furoshiki gift wrap” to find many good instructions. (2018 update: See the link at the end of the post for my own Furoshiki demonstration!)
This year, I mostly used cloth I already owned to wrap our presents. Cloth “sticks” to itself well and I did not even need to use twine or ribbon to hold it together! I also re-used a box from candy sent to the office. I’ll probably re-use a few gift bags from last year too.
For very large items, there is always the option of keeping it hidden somewhere and just having the recipient close their eyes while you go get the gift and put it in front of them!
The day after I originally posted this, a dear friend of mine (who had not read the post yet!) gave me some beautiful reusable gift bags that she had sewn herself! What a thoughtful gift! Below is a picture. I look forward using them in our home each Christmas for years to come.
My 4 year old and I made a youtube video together summerizing a few things we have learned about gift wrapping over the past year and with a demonstration on how to use two types of furoshiki folds for gift wrapping.