December 16, 2013

Ho, Ho, Hold the Wrapping! ~ Risa Rosenberg

Sorry wrapping paper, you’re so pretty but you are just not coming home with me today.

Seems a bit absurd that we are still using actual wrapping paper in this day and age. Seems a bit more than just absurd; seems insane.

An estimated 30 million trees are cut down just to wrap presents in the US every Christmas.[1]

I was walking through a popular retail store the other day and I spotted a three-pack of wrapping paper, in colours that I love, and my heart jumped at the sight of this eye candy, just like it used to. Then I felt sad, a bit helpless and then resigned.

Around ten years ago at Christmas time, I went all Martha Stewart and wrapped around 40 gifts in silver wrap with red velvet ribbon; each present different from the other in my ribbon combinations. I was proud of my creativity and attention to detail and felt like I had accomplished something crafty and special.

I look back on that with compassion and admit that there was genuine lack of awareness; my heart and mind were just not open to the impact of my choices, including using paper to wrap presents.

Things to keep in mind about wrapping paper:

  • Although there are bleaches, inks and dyes that are easily recycled, this is not the case for all wrapping paper manufactured, so look for information on the packaging that will help you understand what you are buying.
  • Find out which kinds of paper leave the smallest footprint, as in unbleached and recycled papers. High glosses and special coatings usually mean additional additives and chemicals.
  • Acknowledge that the very process of importing wrapping paper leaves a distinct footprint (what it takes to get the paper from point A to point B), so consider buying wrapping paper that is as local to your region as possible.
  • Look at how the paper itself is packaged and note whether there is any consideration of the environment in how this is done.
  • Check out the manufacturer and see if there is anything about them that turns you off. If there is no way to easily trace the manufacturer, then that may be enough to help you decide to hold off on supporting a business you know nothing about.
  • There are fun alternatives to buying wrapping paper as well. You can cut down dramatically by using a single bow. You can buy certified, unbleached and post-consumer recycled paper and write your favourite quotes or holiday wishes or put lip-prints on it by kissing it with different colour lipsticks. Here’s some more amazing ideas!
  • And don’t forget about cards. You don’t need to buy a single card this season. Use what you have, cut and fold into a cute shape and write your heart out.

If you are going to buy wrapping paper, consider holding off on purchasing until you’ve researched the manufacturer to ascertain whether their policies meet your standards. Read the packaging for information on certification, recycled content and other environmental considerations.

It’s like any relationship: know thyself, stick to it, and choose from there. You can also blindfold that special person receiving your gift, or ask them to close their eyes. And you can also request ‘no gift wrapped’ presents as well.

Merry Christmas, trees! A happy Chanukah to the wildlife among them and a joyous holiday season to our own lungs!


[1] http://www.treehugger.com/culture/ask-pablo-holiday-wrapping-paper.html

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Assistant Editor: Brenna Fischer

Photo Credit: weegeebored/Flickr

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