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Green Gift Wrap

Even Martha Stewart is recommending homemade gift wrap!

C'mon folks, let's admit it. What happens to most wrapping paper the second your loved one gets their prezzie? Umm hmm. And let's not even talk about the number of trees that have been sacrificed for cards with just a scrawled signature on them. Is it really worth creating so much waste just to follow tradition? Or can we rewrite those traditions and make them more meaningful and fun? Put on your thinking caps and join me. 'Cos I've brought in the cavalry. Raji Sohal, a personal shopper and stylist extraordinaire shares her funky and innovative ideas for making wrapping paper and cards as exciting and useful as the gifts themselves.


Scarves as giftwrap: This is one of the classiest and most appreciated way to wrap items like clothing or books. Raji recommends buying the scarves second hand. I have personally found some stunning pure silk beauties for under a dollar at my local Renaissance. The joy of this method is that you're presenting a gift within a gift. If you've done a good job of matching the scarf with the person receiving it, he/she gets two prezzies in one. If they don't like it or aren't a scarf person, they can simply reuse the fabric as wrapping.

Dishcloths as giftwrap: This is genius. EVERYONE needs dishcloths. And if your house is anything like mine, you can always use an extra. Plus, they tend to wear out quickly. The idea would be to use wrap the dishcloth around your gift (a kitchen-themed item would be perfect, though not vital!) and then secure with thrifted ribbon. Raji and I both save wrapping paper, ribbon, tissue paper and gift bags throughout the year and reuse them when we're giving.
Plus, you can satisfy your urge for something spectacular, yet recycled (or at least hand crafted like the photo above) on etsy.

Newspaper: Newspaper is the ultimate perfect giftwrap. It's practically free, the pages are huge. You can even play a bit and save the funnies or particularly colourful images for this sort of use. If you hate the idea of plain ol' newspaper, make some potato stamps and use them with watercolours or food colouring. Loads of fun for kids. You could also buy some very sophisticated stamps for not very much money at Omer Deserres or some other craft store near you. Don't forget crayons and fingerpainting. That's the beauty of newspaper. There's no pressure to be perfect and it costs nothing to start again. Plus, at the end of it all, it's recyclable.
The trick to remember is to try and only use materials that aren't going to end up in the trash. So minimal sticky tape (ideally, use ribbon that can be reused).

Magazine print: If you're gifting something delicate or pale, maybe magazine print is better than newspaper. Newsprint does tend to rub off on fingers and prezzies. Magazine paper is glossier and the inks are unlikely to bleed. Plus, this can be a really funky way to make a statement that resonates with your recepient.


Buy recycled: It's easier than ever to buy cards that are printed on 100% post consumer recycled paper. In fact, one of my favourite picks is the line of "Totally Green" cards by UK card manufacturer K2 designs. Their cards are mixed fibre, from sustainable sources, ink is vegtable based, the envelope is made from recycled juice cartons and the bag they are packed in is made from corn starch - so it is totally biogradable! Woo hoo! Plus they have a bunch with wild and/or baby animals on the covers (blank inside). Be still my heart. You can buy them at most Multimag stores.

Even better, buy cards made from seeded paper that can be planted. What a lovely way to remind someone every day that you care! For a local option, try Wishbuds.

If you're sending a card... send paper cards only to those who are really near and dear. And fiill them with memories and actual content rather than some trite seasonal greeting and a signature.
Bosses, colleagues and business contacts would be better served with an e-card. There are so many funky (and free) cards out there. Plus, Raji has found a genius way to personalize them...

Personalize your e-cards: Raji downloads songs from iTunes (thereby eliminating packaging and shipping waste) and then attaches a selection of 3 songs to the email she sends with her e-card. That way she gets to share something she loves and the recepients get much more than a card that they would automatically toss in the recycling.

Bring back the letter Some of the most thoughtful presents I've ever received weren't objects at all. They were letters. Written on beautiful paper and cherished forever. Full of words of love and wisdom that can't be bought. Intimacy that lives on long after the person that sent them has passed. There's nothing more magical.

Buy local, support artists:
Go to craft fairs and spaces like Atelier Woodenapples and buy cards and items that are made with recycled materials by local artists. You'll be supporting your local economy and providing an opportunity for some creative individual to do what they love (and perhaps spend more time with their kids). You'll be helping make the world a better place. Isn't that the spirit of Christmas?

All right folks, I'm done blathering. This is when I hand over the stage to you. I'd love to hear your creative, crafty, low-waste wrapping and card ideas. Leave me a comment or call our talkback line (514) 592-2371

A huge thank you to Atelier Woodenapples in the Mile End for letting us use their space to shoot this piece. They also have some great locally made, artisan crafted gifts, stamps and cards as well as workshops for the craftily-inclined. Check them out here.

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