We live in a strong culture of gift giving, as evidenced by gifts for nearly every holiday, both religious and non-religious, as well as birthdays, weddings, graduations, and more. Gift giving can be a great time of shared community and love. But it can also be a detriment to the environment, when one time use paper and cardboard products tend to go to waste, without environmentally conscious practices like recycled gift boxes.
We’ve probably all seen gift wrapping and boxes alike shoved directly into garbage bags after gifts are unwrapped, with hardly a glance given to the packaging. Isn’t that a terrible waste?
Here are seven ideas for how to stop the cycle with recycled gift boxes, bags, and other eco friendly ways of packaging gifts.
1. Previously used gift bags and gift boxes. You may be eco friendly, but perhaps some of the people who give you gifts are not. Rather than throwing away those beautiful boxes and bags, why not store them away and repurpose them in the future? If the gift recipient is outside the family, they will never know the original source of recycled gift bags or boxes. If the recipient is a family member, then they know about your eco friendly beliefs and will not mind getting a previously used bag or box. This is my favorite way of recycling gift boxes and bags–because we are often given gorgeous items we can just use over and over again with no extra work.
2. Recycled shipping boxes. Recycled gift boxes may be delivered right to your door in the form of packages you’ve ordered, especially for larger gifts. It’s fairly easy to cut packing boxes open, flip them inside out, and then use non-toxic paint to decorate the outside, utilizing them as the wrapping for your presents. Or you can simply put a beautiful bow on the box!
3. Decorated store bags. Often, boutique stores will give you a glossy or fancy paper bag with your purchased items in them. Simply use the same container when you give the gift, without further adornment–many people receiving a gift will love anticipating whatever might be inside a box with a glamorous logon it! If that doesn’t work for you, then cover up the logo with some easily found decorations (such as old bows, sea shells, or anything else you can come up with), and you have a fancy, recycled gift bag.
4. Recycled food boxes. As long as they’re clean, recycled gift boxes can have unique histories of what they’ve held. The grocery store sells quite a bit of boxed food, and many people consume it while throwing out tons of packaging waste. If you have boxed groceries, open them carefully, rather than tearing, and save the box. You can decorate it later, and give a gift in it—even if it was originally macaroni or turkey stuffing.
5. Gift bags quilted from old clothes. As far as recycled gift bags go, people generally don’t consider recycling their old clothes. But why not? Before throwing away your stained and heavily used old clothes, cut squares out of the undamaged portions, wash them, and patch them together with some simple needle and thread. A box-like bag is easy to sew, and can be used to hold gifts, assuming they’re not too heavy. This can be a unique way of putting more time into gift giving.
6. Recycled newspaper. Newspaper wrapping need not be ugly. Pick the Sports section for your favorite hockey lover, or the Comics section for that person with a real funnybone in your life.
If you have even more time, you could clip articles that you think a person might be particularly interested in, and tape them together so that the gift recipient has interesting stories to read before even opening their gifts.
7. Gift baskets. Instead of a bag or a box, how about a basket? Many people already utilize gift baskets for giving on holidays like Easter, but still use wasteful materials to wrap other presents. Why not use the open style of a basket with a renewable source like bamboo? The basket itself can be repurposed for many other uses in the future, and the items you put inside can be arranged in a pleasing way. This saves on trees and other wasted materials.
People might feel hesitant to give presents in recycled gift boxes and bags, worried that they might seem cheap. But let’s keep in mind that the true spirit of giving is in the love that comes with the gift, and not merely in the presentation of the gift itself. People will be grateful for the extra care you give their gifts, and may also be appreciative of your efforts to help the environment.