Green Holiday Wrapping Can be Reused, Recycled - and Free
I love surprises, so using some kind of wrapping adds to the fun of giving the present. Otherwise, why not just throw the gift at the giftee and say, "Hope you like it!"
What I hate is seeing so much beautiful paper just being ripped up and tossed aside. Honestly, these days, it's a little embarrassing to put bags full of ripped up paper out on the curb for trash pick-up. And I just can't get beyond the fact that making paper is one of the most polluting industries on earth. The less I use, the better.
Hence, my list of green wrapping paper alternatives:
Reusable shopping bag - $.99 at almost any grocery store
Holiday gift bags – free; reused from gifts people have given me
Homemade gift bags - the price of fabric (free if you reuse what you already have); my neighbor makes gift bags of all sizes from beautiful but inexpensive holiday fabric she buys at the local craft store. Use pinking shears to give the top edge some flair after you sew the other three sides together, then bunch the top and tie with a reusable ribbon.
Reused gift wrap – free (I “capture” it as it’s coming off the present, fold it up, and put it in a box so I can easily find and reuse it next year)
New recycled gift wrap - Pristine Planet offers recycled, recylable paper online (see Reindeer paper, right). If you're buying when you're at the mall, ask the sales clerk for the most eco-friendly option they sell.
Kitchen towels - ideally, made from organic cotton, but anything reusable is a good choice
Scarves - rather than wrap an entire box, tie a decorative scarf around the box and attach a tag made from a recycled gift card
Sunday comics - free
As for gift tags, reuse last year's holiday cards. Cut off the card that has the signature, thread a ribbon through a corner of the remaining card, and voila!
One caveat about any kind of printed wrapping paper: the inks and foils used in wrapping paper may contain chemicals that become toxic when burned. If you can't reuse the paper, don't burn it: recycle it.