Happy Earth Day! Giving Gifts Sustainably

Happy Earth Day! Since April 22, 1970, people worldwide have spent this holiday celebrating the progress we’ve made towards a more sustainable world and reminding us that the work is far from over. This year, the Earth Day Network has organized the March for Science in Washington DC (with cities around the country holding their own marches). The event includes teach-ins and messages from speakers such as Roger Johnson of the National Farmer’s Union and Bill Nye the Science Guy (click the link for an excellent interview with Nye from National Geographic). Join the excitement from home with this March for Science live stream!


All of this Earth-celebrating has inspired me to share about sustainable gifting. As my family knows, I am not one for wrapping paper. In fact, for Christmas this year, we were able to wrap gifts for both my and Andy’s extended families and friends without purchasing a single decorative item. Here are my hints and tips for wrapping gifts that should make all Earth Day celebrators proud:

1. Save your shopping bags


By Loicvdh4470 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How great is it that clothing stores use paper bags instead of plastic? Make the most of your purchase by refurbishing its bag and tissue paper. If you don’t like the company logo, over it up with origami, a cute drawing, or stickers–or, better yet, remember that the wrapping is the least memorable part of a present.

2. Use the news

From http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Bundle-Stack-Newspaper-Old-Newspaper-Jute-Rope-1853667, CC0 Public Domain

No matter how many times I contact my local ad and periodical agencies, I can’t seem to get rid of junk mail. Around holidays, make a collection of your weekly periodicals, and use them for wrapping paper. Some people prefer to stick to the comics and funnies, but a cute add for pet supplies has the same effect.

Pro tips:

3. Use pretty fabric scraps, scarves, and ribbons

From https://pixabay.com/en/scarves-polka-dot-floral-colorful-91349/, CC0 Public Domain

As part of my most recent move, I went through all of my accessories and set aside those I hadn’t worn in years. This included lots of scarves and other fabrics with festive prints that were plenty useful but no longer my style. Taking inspiration from concepts such as LUSH’s Knot-Wraps, scarves serve a double purpose: Reusable wrapping and a thoughtful gift, all in one!

4. Collect extras from the community


From https://pixabay.com/photo-76536/, CC0 Public Domain, Editorial Use Only

I am obsessed with online yard sales on Facebook. It’s super easy to find your local sale and join the group, and I wish I had started earlier! Around holidays, birthdays, and other festive gift-giving times, check your local page to see if any wrapping supplies are up for grabs. Some people will even give you stuff for free! Just make sure you never give your personal address and meet in a public place for pickup.

5. If you must buy paper, either go to your local dollar store or support a local business

Here’s where you decide if you’d rather be sustainable economically or environmentally.

If you don’t have the time or materials for the above recommendations, or you really just want to wrap your presents with regular wrapping paper, you have two good options.


From https://flic.kr/p/cQiSXd, CC 2.0

First, you could buy supplies at your local dollar store. Chain gift stores charge much more for wrapping paper than it costs to be made. And whatever the quality of the wrapping paper, its entire purpose is to be torn off and disposed of, so buying gift-shop paper is akin to literally throwing away money. Instead of throwing away $5-$10 per roll, throw away $1. However, buying from larger, chain stores without knowing how their products are made is not always an environmentally-savvy situation.

File:Etsy logo lg rgb.png

By Etsy Brand Design Team (Etsy.com) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Your other option is to support small and local businesses by purchasing your wrapping supplies on Etsy. You’ll be spending more money, but at least you know exactly where and to whom your money is going. Generally, smaller retailers have a smaller carbon footprint.

Pro tip: Check out this list of festive holiday paper from Etsy, brought to you by The Neotraditionalist. Many of the shops have non-holiday items for sale, too!

6. Remember, the gift inside is what’s important, not the wrapping


From https://pixabay.com/en/book-gift-cord-gold-cord-golden-1667828/, CC0 Public Domain

‘Nuff said.

Stay savvy and Happy Earth Day!


Featured image by { pranav }https://flic.kr/p/bAAXTs, CC 2.0


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