Zero Waste of Time: And that’s a (non-plastic) wrap!

Use dehydrated orange slices for holiday decorations and then compost them. Juliette Fradin photography.

By JULIETTE FRADIN — Did you know most wrapping paper is non-recyclable? It has often been chemically dyed, laminated, and mixed with non-paper materials like foil and glitter (aka plastic) which makes them non-recyclable. And that’s before you even factor in the ribbon, sticky tape, cellophane, gift tags and so on. It seems such a waste to wrap presents in material which will be ripped apart in a few seconds and then sent straight to the landfill. Instead, you can avoid single-use wrap with these creative ideas:

  • Repurpose kids’ artwork for wrapping. Or wrap with newspaper, an old map or book/music pages, or plain brown, untreated paper. Upcycle old gift bags or use a tote bag. Consider wrapping a present (like a bottle of wine) in a Swedish sponge cloth secured with a bit of twine. Place your gift in a reusable produce or bulk bag — it’s a gift within a sustainable gift. Swap tape for twine or washi tape. Save tissue paper and bows and reuse them.
  • After wrapping your gift, decorate it with natural elements like sprigs of lavender and rosemary, holly, pine cones, or cinnamon quills. Head to a thrift store to shop and get creative: find colorful silk scarves and give furoshiki, the Japanese art of fabric wrapping, a try.
  • To add a pop of color, embellish your package with dehydrated oranges: cut oranges into thin slices, and then pat between layers of a dish cloth to remove moisture. Place them on a wire rack on top of your radiator and turn them every day until they are completely dry. Or preheat your oven to 200°F, place them on a rack for 1 to 2 hours, checking them every 30 minutes until they are completely dry. 

You could also skip wrapping altogether by giving experiences rather than physical gifts. There are many small businesses along the Route 1 Corridor (and beyond) that are ready to help you tackle such a Christmas list. Many local retailers offer classes and workshops, so you could treat a loved one to a meditation class at Numi Yoga, a papermaking class at Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center, or tickets to a show at Joe’s Movement Emporium.

Sometimes it is hard to find the right, thoughtful gift for a loved one. I don’t want to buy something that will end up in the giveaway pile, so this year my goal is not to buy something just because I feel the pressure. Rather, I will craft something myself or fill a jar with goodies I buy in bulk. I could also offer a gift card from a local shop or make a donation to a cause the recipients cares about. 

Any small changes you make at home can also make a difference right here in our community. Have a happy, eco-friendly, secondhand, sustainable holiday season! 

Send questions and comments to bonjour@juliettefradin.com.

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