Small changes can make a big difference, so we're trying out these sustainable—but festive!—suggestions from the Veggie Wifey
We all like finding gifts under the Christmas tree with our name on them. But the confronting the wasteful wreckage of paper and boxes after unwrapping can be a real buzzkill. In 2019, each Hong Kong resident threw out 1.47kg of waste each day. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, and the use of disposable hygiene products, this number may have increased significantly over the last two years. But the more pressing issue is that Hong Kong only has three landfills in which to pile up the city’s waste, and we have a very wasteful consumer culture in the 852. Going green with your holiday season, even if you only make small changes in your household, can make a big difference long-term, and also helps encourage others around you to waste a little less this Christmas. One easy change to make is to switch to sustainable gift wrapping by reusing and recycling supplies that you may already have at home.
Sustainable gift wrapping ideas
1. Use Fabric
Wrapping gifts in fabric has been a part of many cultures for centuries— the Japanese call it furoshiki. Using fabric instead of wrapping paper is a huge step towards sustainability. The fabric you wrap your gifts with can be reused year after year, without throwing it away, and passed on from gift to gift.
There are some beautiful Christmas fabric designs you can buy, or, better yet, if you have an old Christmas jumper, solid coloured tops, dresses, shirts or pants that you don’t want to wear anymore, you can cut it up into square pieces to use as a fabric wrap for your gifts.
2. Don’t throw away those decorative bits and bobs!
Whenever you receive a gift or a delivery, or go shopping, there may be some embellishments that you can hang onto to reuse when wrapping your own gifts. Things like ribbons, wired roses, bows or bags don’t need to be thrown away. They can be stored and reused when you wrap your gifts for some extra beautiful decor.
I keep my ribbons, strings, flowers and bags in separate storage containers so it’s organised and easy to find when needed.
3. Reuse wrapping paper
If you do happen to receive a gift that has been wrapped in wrapping paper, carefully peel it off the gift and store it for wrapping another gift (or for DIY art projects). You can do this with other wrapped items too, so it helps reduce waste!
4. Use solid colour tissue paper as wrapping paper
Using solid colour tissue paper for wrapping can be a sustainable alternative because if it’s compostable. If the tissue paper does not have synthetic coating, glitter, foil, or embellishments, tissue paper is good for your compost. There’s a test you can do to check if your wrapping paper is compostable. It’s called a scrunch test, and if your paper is able to scrunch up without bouncing back, you know it’s compostable.
TOP TIP: Placing two contrasting tissue colours together is a great way to make your gift look professionally wrapped and elegant.
5. Use drawstring bags
Drawstring bags are such an easy and sustainable gift wrapping option! The bags are multipurpose and anyone receiving these bags can use them again. You can also create your own drawstring bag from preloved fabric, mix and match the colours around and decorate with ribbons and string.
Making small sustainable gift wrapping changes like the ideas above can not only make your presents look unique, and heartfelt, but also save tonnes of waste.