My often difficult, pain in the b-side younger brother doesn’t use Christmas wrapping paper. Now initially I thought this was just another case of him not wanting to fit in, not conforming, or not being bothered to make an effort on our presents. And maybe part of that was true at some point, but as he has matured into someone with a strong environmental conscience it has become clear that there was more than I thought to this behaviour. I had never thought before he pointed out to me about the huge amount of waste that we create over Christmas, or other seasonal holidays, and how wrapping paper is really a massive waste of resources, and is all that room in landfill really worth it for the seconds it takes to rip it off?

Now some of his actions that are based on consideration of the planet I don’t intend to take on; for example his veganism, and maybe I will do another post on my thoughts on this, but making an environmentally sensible decision on how to wrap my Christmas gifts seems like a very simple action that I can take, and if I can convince a couple more people to think about it this season then even better.

So as I see it there are a few choices in terms of wrapping presents environmentally. Firstly there is reusing what you have already received – I sometimes keep especially nice paper from gifts a receive – the really thick stuff that doesn’t seem to even crease! And I know my mother also collects up all the pretty sparkly ribbon to reuse on future years – I used some of this at the weekend for my Christmas crafts mentioned in my last post!

Secondly there is the option that I suspect my brother takes, although perhaps I wrong him, of using whatever happens to be lying around the house – brown paper if you have it, left over paper scraps, fabric even, or the paper bags from the Christmas shopping trips! Perhaps this is the best option as it is also financially sensible, but I am not ready to give up my pretty wrapped up presents to go under the tree, so this isn’t the option for me.

The third option is deliberately sourcing environmentally friendly paper – and there is loads out there! I did a quick google search and so many things came up. For a starter I found the following blog post from last year which also raises the issue of the huge amount of celotape that we use over Christmas that is also non recyclable – but don’t panic – there is an alternative option to this too!

Here are three of the wrapping paper websites I found, I can’t assess how good they are as I am yet to use them, so you will have to experiment yourself:

Green field paper not only have 100% recycled paper but also use soy based inks for printing rather than standard petroleum ones – even better!

Based in London, this company has been selling 100% recycled paper with vegetable ink print since 2011 and claims to only work with other companies with similar ethical and environmentally friendly practices. I have bought some from this website as it is UK based compared to the US ones below. Wrappily does ship to the UK I just felt this was slightly counterproductive to my environmentally friendly choice…

Its not cheap, compared to wrapping all your presents from 2 rolls you got for 99p. I will continue my hunt for cheaper paper.

This website sells 100% recycled newsprint, also with soy ink, with some funky patterns, and it comes with some shocking stats on its home page:

  • wrapping paper and shopping bags contribute to 4 tons of waste in the US alone every year
  • Over the holidays, about 227,000 miles worth of wrapping paper get thrown away—enough to circle the world 9 times!
  • Most wrapping paper cannot be recycled because it’s dyed, laminated, or contains non-paper additives.

There are of course other sources out there, and in fact other options I havn’t mentioned – making the girt themselves the wrapping, using funky pots, reusable pretty boxes, and I’m sure hundreds more creative ideas, I even saw one person suggesting using plant pots! But I just wanted to throw the thought out there that it wouldn’t be too difficult to source ecofriendly wrapping paper this year 🙂




A Christmas-y Craft Weekend

What a lovely weekend! Well… extended weekend to be more accurate. A visit from my cousin was an excellent excuse to drink lots of tea, eat lots of food and watch back to back Disney films whilst pottering around using up my craft supplies! I really need to shrink my belongings down for an imminent move so it was really a question of use it or chuck it.

My first project was a Christmas wreath to try and use up some scrap fabric. I rescued a rusty cake tin from the fabricwreath.jpgpile of stuff going to the dump – one of those ones were the base comes out in case your cake gets stuck. Using some inspiration from a quick Christmas craft google I cut strips out of a variety of vaguely Christmas fabrics (anything red and green and a fair amount from a yellowy brown fabric that i tried to convince myself looked like gold…) and just tied them around the hoop. I alternated having the knot on either side of the ring to try and get a good covering, and tried as hard as i could to have the patterned fabric the right side up when I tied it. It would have worked a lot better if I had only used fabrics that are coloured on both sides, but my stock of those is pretty slim. I was pretty pleased with the effect once it was covered, but it needed a bit of a Christmas touch, so I gathered anything golden – random foil cut into a leaf, one of those things you stick on presents, and a random slice of dried orange, and armed with some sparkly ribbon and a bit of glitter ‘jazzed it up’. Voila – up-cycled Christmas wreath!

The next thing to be rescued out of the dump pile was a wooden knife block. My cousin recognised that this was clearly a reindeer waiting to happen so between us, he was Rudolph.jpgpainted a nice brown, legs painted on, cardboard painted eyes attached to cover the knife slits + a lovely red pompom for his nose. The ears were painted wood – some random bits i found that I think came from the back of a canvas or picture frame. Trying to work out what to use for antlers was definitely the hardest; we considered going out to get some sticks, I tried making some out of twisted paper, pipe cleaners were suggested and would have been lovely but i had none… In the end I fashioned some by winding some black (or it may be dark blue…) wool around some unwound paperclips. Everything was attached successfully with PVA glue. (Thank you to my bf for going out especially to get this for us!) And Hello Rudolph! (I hope you appreciate good old Sebastian keeping us company!)

You can see in the photos above the photo-frame that was decoupage-d but unfortunately
not finished as we couldn’t find just the right things to decorate it with. Plus my pompoms.jpgcousin got distracted by making piles of pompoms – a nice repetitive activity that keeps the hands busy whilst we continued our Disney marathon. I watched Big Hero 6 for the first time and absolutely loved it! There were a few other random things for example a quick origami session – you can see my cousin’s cranes and duck on the right, and I tried making some paper flowers – the ones where you cut up a spiral, but I can never get them quite right. Eventually we had to decide what was going to happen to all the pompoms and a wreath was chosen as the best option. The only thing that was round left in the dump pile was the old heating element from the oven, but we felt a bit uncomfortable about using it, so instead we cut out three rings from cardboard (yes out of the dump pile) and glued them together. They were then wrapped tightly in wool before the pompoms were sewn on, followed closely by another sparkly Christmas ribbon + a wool tie for hanging. Gorgeous work from my lovely cousin! She did however leave some escaped pompoms behind…

I almost threw out some old silk discs that must have come out of a kit I had when I was a teenager and for some reason I have carried around in my craft box ever since, when I realised they would make a perfect snowman! I had some perfect snowflake tissue paper to cover them in, gave him some buttons for his… buttons, some googly eyes, a heart button nose, a gold foil mouth, a painted cardboard hat and a plaited red wool scarf! I havn’t got any photos of the making of Mr Snowman but you can see him at the top of the blog!

The last thing I did, that I’m not quite as pleased with as all the other things, is a thing card hanger.jpgwith hanging ribbons so that I can attach Christmas cards to it. I had a random cardboard tube with some holes in already – I have no idea what it was from, but it was in the recycling pile – so I painted it red and threaded some ribbon through the holes using a bent paper clip. I used another ribbon to hang it from and decided it needed a bit more decoration. I attempted some glitter writing before sticking lots of snowflake sequins on. (Yes I do hate sequins, and on clothing they make my skin crawl, but these snowflake ones didn’t even give me a hint of the creeps so it’s all good.) The glitter writing was mixed success, I think you can make out ‘joy’ and ‘hope’ but ‘love’ just looks like a funny splodge. Now i just need to receive some cards…

Despite what it may look like, we did leave the house during the visit, so I will leave you with some pictures of a lovely tea room we went to which was decorated like Alice-in-wonderland. It’s just off Canal Street in Manchester called Richmond Tea Rooms.

I hope you enjoyed,