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Sustainability Blog: Alternative Wrapping Paper

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Chatham chapter.

Every holiday season, I find myself in a serious dilemma. I want to be festive, celebratory, and have holiday cheer coming out from practically all of my orifices. But when it comes to wrapping presents, the environmentalist in me struggles to buy and use typical wrapping paper. Recycleworks.org cites that in the US, 4 million tons of gift wrap and shopping bags are trashed every holiday season. That’s roughly equivalent to the weight of one million African elephants! This just simply won’t do, no matter how cute the wrapping paper design. So, as for many of our problems, we turn to the almighty Google for answers. How does one maintain a comfortable level of joviality, while simultaneously satisfying environmental concerns? Luckily, the all-knowing Google machine has bestowed its wisdom upon us this year. Here are 5 alternatives to the standard holiday wrapping paper.

1. Old maps. Much like life, roads, routes, and interstates are constantly changing their designs. Thus, paper maps are frequently outdated. What better way to show your loved one that you care than to show them the road map to your heart this year? Not to mention all of the other cool crafts you can make with old maps (check this out), you could kill two birds with one stone and make a gift out of maps, and wrap it in maps! Maps on maps on maps on maps!

2. Tissue paper. Not only will this wrapping choice not break your bank, but you can also get super creative with the decorations! Break out your inner Picasso and hand-draw Santa himself or outline Rudolph with Sharpie. Your recipient will love the care and consideration that you put into the wrapping paper just as much as the gift!

3. Fabric. Don’t throw away your fabric scraps! Find the coolest patterns and wrap up your presents this year with 100% all-cotton cheer!

4. Sweater Sleeves. The perfect solution to using Aunt Edna’s ugly knitted sweater. Cutting off the sleeves of a sweater and slapping a bow on it will get you off the hook, and save the planet! Simply cut off a section, sew the end together to form a bag, and slide your gift inside!

5. Natural elements. Now that you’ve perfectly wrapped your gift, why not venture outdoors to add some tinsel, IRL? Pinecones, small fir branches, and maple leaves, just to name a few, can make lovely finishing touches to your gifts this holiday.

Armed with my five alternatives, I feel better about my environmental impact this year. Additionally, I know that my extra eco-friendly efforts won’t go unnoticed by my recipients—they’ll love my wrapping job just as much as the gift inside! It’s a green holiday miracle!




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  Mara Flanagan is entering her seventh semester as a Chapter Advisor. After founding the Chatham University Her Campus chapter in November 2011, she served as Campus Correspondent until graduation in 2015. Mara works as a freelance social media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She interned in incident command software publicity at ADASHI Systems, gamification at Evive Station, iQ Kids Radio in WQED’s Education Department, PR at Markowitz Communications, writing at WQED-FM, and marketing and product development at Bossa Nova Robotics. She loves jazz, filmmaking and circus arts.