Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December Conservation Tip

Before I start with the actual tip here a Christmas present tip that is really close to my heart:
My good friend, the conservation photographer Daisy Gilardini, published a wonderful book on her arctic and antarctic adventures this fall, and I think this makes a wonderful Christmas present.
To see a preview of the book and to order, please click here. Please be aware of the holiday shipping deadlines:
Priority mail : Sunday December 12th
Express mail : Tuesday December 14th

"POLAR WONDERS: photographs from the ends of the Earth"

Have you been Christmas shopping this last weekend, or are you planning to do so next weekend. I love shopping for friends and family. The feeling of getting just the right item to put a smile on their faces when they unwrap their present fills me with happy anticipation.


Every year I wonder about that huge heap of wrapping paper that litters the floor after the gift giving. But never mind, we recycle, or so I thought. Did you know that most of the wrapping paper is NOT recyclable, because it is dyed, laminated or has additives like glitter and plastic attached?

I did a bit of research and found some mind boggling facts:

In 1994 the American Greetings Company alone sold 1.7 billion linear feet of wrapping paper, enough to go around earth 12 times!

In average every year 4 million tons of logs go from forest to landfill due to wrapping paper and gift bags.

In 2009 an estimated 8000 tons of wrapping paper was used, the equivalent of 50.000 trees.

So, is there an alternative? Putting the gifts unwrapped under the tree just doesn't seem to do the trick.

Here some ideas I used last year and plan to use this year:

Most grocery stores sell now fabric shopping bags, look for a really nice one (I like the Whole Foods "a better bag" a lot) and wrap your present in one of these.

How about putting the gifts for a family in a handwoven African shopping basket, which is a great gift by itself. Whole Foods and New Leaf sell fair trade baskets from Africa, if you are in the Bay Area.
If not check out this website: Baskets of Africa

Give gift certificates, they don't need much wrapping.

Choose a symbolic wildlife adoption, no wrapping required either. Checkout my June Conservation tip for sources and ideas on that.

Use old magazines, catalogs or colored newspaper as wrapping material.

Let your kids decorate normal (recyclable) paper for Grandma and Grandpa's presents. Dried leaves or dried flowers make beautiful decorations.

Ordered online? Use the shipping box as wrapping and decorate it with magazine clippings, old photos etc. Again, a great kids project.

If you really want to wrap your present, make sure it is made from recycled material and/or recyclable.
A great source for this is EarthPresents, their wrapping paper is 100% recycled and recyclable. They feature the art of students with special talents and special needs on their wrapping paper and support these students with parts of their sales. Good for you, good for the environment and good for the students with special needs.

Happy Holidays!


  1. There are some great ideas there! I would like to add fabric gift bags like these: http://www.lnt.com/show_product/263437-17/?utm_source=froogle&utm_medium=datafeed&utm_term=263437-17 and for some, furoshiki - http://furoshiki.com/ - it is like origami for fabric gift wrap! :D

  2. Susanne, interesting and creative ideas. I like to use the funnies from the Sunday newspaper as wrapping specifically for a b'day gift. Gives everybody a laugh before opening...