When the holidays come around, even the most environmentally conscious of us may lose our way on the "road to sustainability." Just when we think we are forming new and lasting habits, old behaviors can come crawling back and we revert to the familiar. Even something as simple as wrapping gifts can pose a waste quandary during this time of year. For example -- should you stick with

your traditional holiday-themed wrapping paper, even though it may not be recyclable? When you're walking the line between keeping up with tradition and doing your best for the environment, what's the best route? You may want to check in with your wallet and your waste basket to find out.

Reusing items, whether for their original purpose or in other ways, is always preferable to buying new. The same goes for gift wrapping, during the holidays and all year long. Creativity is the most important element though, because almost anything can be reborn into packaging or wrapping for a gift. If reuse is your passion, then why not put your gift in something unique, like decorating CD cases to use for gift cards, or using embellished paper towel rolls to wrap small items?

If you don't have the time or wherewithal for crafty reuse projects, why not use your imagination with other common items that can be used to wrap presents? Trends in gift wrapping are leaning toward a more "natural" or even vintage look. Think about using old maps or even leftover fabric. Examples abound on websites like Pinterest and Etsy. Remember, being creative in the presentation of a gift can mean just as much the gift itself.


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Here's something really simple you might like. Good old brown kraft paper (e.g. paper bags) is very popular as gift wrap these days. You may think wrapping presents in grocery sacks is tacky and cheap -- not so. Many people use this material and spice it up with all sorts of decorations, from sprigs of pine to stickers and photos. And, there are so many good reasons to make kraft paper your "wrapping of choice." The best reason is its recyclability. Lots of traditional wrapping contains metal or plastic, rendering it non-recyclable. Kraft paper is highly recyclable; you can also use it for any holiday or occasion: birthdays, anniversaries, you name it. Lastly, kraft paper is very strong, but also very inexpensive. When compared to ordinary wrapping, kraft is about one-fifth the cost of the more colorful "Santa and his reindeer" printed variety.

Thinking literally, outside the box, when it comes to gift wrapping is something that can be creative, fun and inexpensive. You just may find that you are making new holiday traditions, ones that are crafted with the environment in mind. What could be better than that?

Happy Holidays!

Contact Lois Courchaine at lois@wastediversion.org