What exactly is “minimal” or “low impact” wrapping?
Minimal wrapping can be defined as wrapping that is considered “just enough” to cover the item so it has that element of surprise. We want to still make the holidays exciting, so we can’t deprive ourselves of this curiosity.
Low impact wrapping, or zero waste wrapping as others may call it, is using as little plastic and disposable wrapping as possible. In addition to the physical wrapping paper, low impact wrapping takes into account the environmental footprint needed to produce and transport these materials to get into your hands, as well as the treatment of the workers all throughout the process. If you’re just starting out and low impact wrapping sounds too large and encompassing for you, that’s completely fine. Starting with minimal wrapping ideas is a good place to begin.
As the holidays approach and you think of how you want to wrap up your gifts to your loved ones, I want you to also take a step back and think of alternative ways of wrapping your presents — ways that don’t continue to contribute to hyper-consumerism and help in being more ecologically conscious.
This is an important step I’ve personally taken in my own personal holiday celebration process, as I want to make sure I keep in mind my values and don’t compromise them because I couldn’t think of how I could put them into action.
So I’ve done the thinking for you and have provided general tips and ideas for wrapping your presents this holiday season. Beyond the aesthetic wrapping paper with dogs wearing glasses or snowmen on them, you can still make your presents desirable looking.
Note: For giving gifts to kids, using gift bags or recyclable paper are the best options to take, so they either have gift bags that their parents can reuse or paper that can go into the recycle bin versus the trash can. Kids like the idea of ripping up the paper to see their gift, so don’t deprive them of that experience. You are still able to give them that experience in a socially responsible manner. (Just make sure to communicate with the parents ahead of time that these items are recyclable and you would appreciate if they recycled it, or even offer to take it to the recycling yourself.)
The rest of the ideas I provide down below can be used for giving gifts to your friends and family members, as I’m assuming you can open your mind up to the creative ways you can reuse an item and are more willing to see the value in versatile pieces.
Ideas for minimal wrapping include:
- Reusing old gift bags you’ve saved from previous years.
- Using twine and paper tags that can be recycled or reused for labeling your gifts.
- Use old newspapers to wrap big presents.
- Use old magazines to wrap small gifts.
- Reuse old boxes you have to hold your items.
- Use mason jars from old pasta, peanut butter, or other food items to hold diy products you’ve created (face masks, lip balms or scrubs, other home products).
- No wrapping paper at all! Just put a handmade bow or twine wrapped into a bow to add festive feels.
Ideas for Low Impact wrapping include:
- Wrapping gifts in reusable cloths that people can use to wrap other items they use, such as their lunch boxes.
- Wrapping gifts in reusable fabric bags are also useful because people can use this bag to hold other items.
- If you use the company “Who Gives a Crap”, they wrap their toilet paper in really cute paper packaging that can be reused as wrapping paper. It’s already been given to you with your current order of bathroom necessities, so don’t go out and buy more/order more online when you have this resource at your place already.
- A lot of the minimal wrapping ideas above actually work as low impact too, since they try to use resources you already have.
And to be frank, that’s the main emphasis I’m trying to make when you are trying to consider how to wrap items.
Wrapping your gifts doesn’t have to involve a lot of waste.
But now comes the question of “What if you want to wrap presents with less waste and don’t have the items you listed above?”
Well, first of all, know that this isn’t your ticket to buy a bunch of new things just to show everyone you’re transitioning to minimal or low impact packaging. As much as wanting to buy a lot of new things to represent the values of a new lifestyle seems appealing, it’s counterintuitive to what the lifestyle actually stands for.
- The best first step you can take is to use what you have, meaning, if you have ugly gift bags, use and distribute those before going out to buy reusable cloth bags.
- If you are gifted bags from other people, don’t trash them. Keep them for other occasions.
- If you have wrapping paper, don’t just throw it away. Use it until you have no more of it, and once exhausted, then go ahead and purchase new, reusable items for all future wrapping.
The process of moving away from hyper-consumerism and being ecologically conscious will always be ongoing (and never perfect) which is completely fine – Do your part, be intentional and by example, people will follow or take an interest. What you do can impact the people around you, so spread the word and show how simple, minimal and low impact wrapping can still make the holiday season enjoyable.
These relationships are what matters, and having respect for the planet and the people who fall in the production process of your choice of wrapping will make the life you live worth being proud of.
Placing emphasis on the gift-giving process, its meaning and worldly impact, rather than the aesthetics of the wrapping paper will be so much for fulfilling for you.