The No Paper Challenge: What If We Wrapped Gifts Sustainably?

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
L Berg

Each new year I resolve to live my life a little more sustainably: keep the reusable shopping bags in the car, look for fair trade coffee, and just try to avoid buying stuff I don’t need.

But I’m a sucker for Christmas, and the holiday shopping season is my kryptonite. There are so many beautiful, sparkly things...I can’t help but buy them. One such guilty buying pleasures is the limitless winter-themed wrapping paper. There’s a sense of pride in how perfect the gifts look under the tree Christmas morning. And yet, it always ends the same way: tearing up the paper and throwing it in the trash.

This year I’ve decided to create for myself a No Paper Challenge. Not only am I saying no to buying new pretty paper (sigh) but have decided not to use paper for wrapping presents at all! It takes a bit more creativity, but I’ve channeled my arts-and-crafts genes and have come up with at least one practical solution, which you can use too! You will need:

<p>One Roll of Burlap</p>

One Roll of Burlap

L Berg
<p>One spool of Festive Ribbon</p>

One spool of Festive Ribbon

L Berg
<p>One Pair of Scissors</p>

One Pair of Scissors

L Berg
<p>One Gift Needing Wrapping!</p>

One Gift Needing Wrapping!

L Berg

I’d rather hoped I would have some fabric lying around I could use, (I’ve heard free fabric swatches is an excellent option), but I ended up buying the burlap and ribbon you see here from Michael’s. Wrapping the present is quite straight forward. If it’s a rectangular or square shape, like a stack of books or folded clothing, you can simply fold in the ends like you would wrapping paper, and use ribbon or string to secure it (see top image). For heavier objects I’d suggest using small safety pins to connect the separate edges for added reinforcement. Since burlap is a bit see-through and can shed on other fabrics like clothing, I sometimes add a layer of recycled newspaper or tissue paper underneath the burlap.

Or, for more unique shapes like the mug I have here, you can go for the gift basket look: tie it all up at the top.

<p>Cut the burlap into a large square </p>

Cut the burlap into a large square

L Berg
<p>Add recycled newspaper for a bit of protection</p>

Add recycled newspaper for a bit of protection

L Berg
<p>The Finished Gift!</p>

The Finished Gift!

L Berg

Okay, this present is a bit more of an ugly duckling than a beautiful swan. However, as my first try, it will definitely make the gift on the inside that much more impressive. You wouldn’t want your wrapping paper to outshine the gift itself, now would you?

The best part about using material like burlap or cloth to wrap gifts in is that you can reuse it! Just like with gift bags or boxes, it’s as simple as saving and storing it for the next holiday or gift-giving occasion. Whether you give your uniquely wrapped gift to a family member or a friend, encourage them to pass the No Paper Challenge along! Or, as with my family, I might just ask for the gift wrap back ;)