Written by Maya Ulrich
The holiday season has arrived, and with it comes a flourish of shopping for our loved ones. With so many options available at our fingertips, many of us find ourselves faced with ethical and economic dilemmas in regards to how we are going to spend our consumer dollars.
Living a sustainable lifestyle does not have to be drab, hurt your wallet, or harm our animal friends. In fact, many of the ways that we can live a plant-based lifestyle extend beyond what we put on our plates. One of the biggest ways that we can remain environmentally and animal-friendly during these winter months is by knowing that most store-bought wrapping papers, ribbons, and foils are not, and I emphasize, NOT recyclable.
Discarded wrapping paper leaves a sea of shiny paper in our oceans and tumbling tissue paper in our backyards. To help avoid adding our waste to growing landfills (waste that ends up invading the habitats of our furry, scaled, and feathered friends and negatively affecting their health), we put together a list of alternative ways to wrap your gifts that are cruelty-free and help us protect the animals and our earth.
1. Use reusable bags!
Not only are usable bags a gift in themselves, but they’re also extremely practical because they can be repurposed for other uses. The recipient of your gift will be able to tote around theirs with pride knowing that they are living sustainably. Heck, treat yourself at the same time and get one with a cute animal on it!
2. Use leftover paper from the Sunday comics
Your friends and family will get to see just how serious you are about cruelty-free living when they see The Peanuts covering their gifts. You get to laugh because you get to keep the green paper in your pocket instead of on their presents. They get to laugh because you are literally giving them a humorous gift.
3. Use pillowcases and sheets
Is using a pillowcase as wrapping paper glamorous? No. But everyone will be so impressed by your ingenuity and creativity that they won’t think twice about how it looks.
4. Use those boxes you get from shipping
Cardboard boxes just get thrown in the recycling anyway, why not customize the box for the person you are giving the gift to? Paint, stamp, and draw to your heart’s delight! The possibilities are endless.
5. Use old fabric or clothes
Similar to using a sheet or pillowcase. However, if you are super crafty and know how to work some scissors, a needle, and thread you can stitch together some cute DIY coverings.
6. Brown bag it!
Julie Andrews was onto something when she sang about “brown paper packages tied up with string,” and so can you! There’s something nostalgic about simple wrapping paper––try cutting up a leftover paper bag or using a roll of plain craft paper to decorate your gift.
7. Plain wrapping paper
If it’s free of metallic designs and glitter, it’s likely recyclable! Make sure to double check the…erm, wrapping 🙂
1. Animal-based products for your wrappings.
Animal-based wrappings including beeswax, fur, and leather aren’t cruelty-free.
2. Bows, glitter, and ribbon.
While many add a beautiful and sparkly flair to a gift, these are not recyclable! Many bows that are plastic-paper composite are not the right composition to make cardboard, which makes them a direct-to-trash item unless you decide to reuse the bow again and again. Tricky!