Choose eco-friendly wrapping products
Pretty paper alone doesn't make for a polished gift. For the complete package, you need the shiny trim (ribbons and bows), tape, and gift tags, too. Unfortunately, these giftwrapping fundamentals and frills carry an eco-price in the form of plastics, harmful chemicals, and felled trees. The good news is your presents can still sizzle and be sustainable, too.
How to choose eco-friendly wrapping products
- Save and reuse: Ribbons and bows of all types can be saved and then reused again and again instead of tossing them.
- Decorate gifts with gifts: Give a gift within a gift by adorning your packages with bow alternatives like reusable items that fit the occasion, such as holiday cookie-cutters, bundled fresh herbs, or handmade decorative items. Cuts costs and waste.
- Avoid synthetics: Bows and ribbons made from synthetic materials (mostly petroleum products) should be set aside for more natural options. Polish off packages with down-home, earth-friendly flair; use natural fiber raffia ribbon, twine, or yarn in place of regular ribbon.
- Choose eco-friendly tags: Design your own gift tags from recycled paper, old wrapping paper, or greeting cards. Or buy recycled or tree-free gift tags.
Find it! Eco-friendly wrapping products
When thinking about how to finish off your gifts, consider resilience and recyclability. A lot of ribbons and bows found at your local store are made using petroleum products which means they’re not sustainable nor are they recyclable, but many renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable options do exist. If you’re going for longevity (a great idea if you want to reduce waste), then choose long-lasting ribbons made from organic or natural fibers such as cotton, silk, hemp, or bamboo. Less durable options also exist, such as recycled paper and biodegradable crepe paper. Seal the deal with naturally biodegradable tape, too!
These gift tags are made from 100 percent post-consumer paper with soy-based inks, organic pigments, and contain a robust mix of seed species that will grow in all regions of the country when planted.
Avoid synthetic ribbon and use hemp twine instead for natural looking tree-free gift-giving. Global Hemp Store's hemp twine is twisted and waxed to be smooth and flexible, making it easier to tie up packages. Colors include natural, black, red, orange, green, and turquoise.
The US Environmental Protection Agency won't allow this tape to be called "biodegradable," but it's made with cellulose instead of acetate. Cellulose, a plant-based substance, is transparent and sticky.
Avoid synthetic ribbon by tying up gifts with natural raffia. Made from raffia palms in Madagascar, the palm frond leaves are opened and the natural raffia fiber is taken to create a natural looking ribbon. Paper Mart offers a large selection of raffia, either natural or dyed in various earth tones.
Made from strands of cotton coated with water-based adhesive and dyed with soy-based ink, this ribbon is 100 percent biodegradable. Ribbon comes in several colors, including artichoke, baby blue, baby pink, and barn red.
Made from biodegradable 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. Paporganics gift enclosure cards are blank inside and come in several styles for various occasions. They are processed chlorine-free and are printed with 100 percent vegetable inks.
This popular European transparent tape is made from biodegradable regenerated cellulose, which is derived from wood pulp. The wood pulp comes from suppliers with ISO14000 certification and extensive reforestation programs. The pulp is made via an eco-friendly, chlorine-free process.
Choosing eco-friendly wrapping products helps you go green because...
- It removes gift tags, bows, and ribbons from the solid waste stream, saving landfill space.
- In the case of gift tags, virgin timber resources are preserved along with the energy used to harvest them.
- Fewer petroleum products and toxic chemicals are used during manufacturing and after disposal.
The increased waste generated during the holiday season (including gift tags, ribbons, bows and transparent tape) sends an additional 1 million tons of refuse to America's landfills each week between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Buying recycled or tree-free gift tags can help curb the flow of paper waste year-round by increasing the demand for products made from post-consumer waste, thereby encouraging more paper recycling to meet the demand.
Likewise, since ribbons and bows tape are typically constructed from non-recyclable plastic, using eco-friendly alternatives or reusing these materials over and over again cuts down on the mound of waste that ends up in landfills. If every American family reused just 2 feet of ribbon during the holidays, it would save 38,000 miles of ribbon—enough to tie a bow around the Earth.
The trouble with tape
Most adhesive tape sold in the US is made from synthetic acetate and petroleum byproducts that aren't biodegradable or recyclable. Because millions of miles of tape are sold each year, the environmental impact can be significant. 3M alone (maker of Scotch Tape) claims to sell enough tape annually to circle the planet 165 times.
As environmental standards tighten, some tape manufacturers are looking to replace petroleum-based adhesives with water-based materials, but few are yet available. One alternative, available mostly in Europe, is tape made of biodegradable regenerated cellulose, derived from wood pulp.