“I would like us all to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter.” Pope Francis, General Audience 6/5/2013
Is Fancy Gift Wrap Good for the Environment?
There is no question that sparkling, glossy gift bags and gift wrap are beautiful and can make a gift feel special, but is it good? We want our gifts to be tokens of joy and care, not beautiful little environmental destroyers, right?
Going green gives us an opportunity to rethink gift giving and trying to not only give more thoughtful and eco-friendly gifts, but also to wrap them in more thoughtful and eco-friendly wrapping. With a little creativity, we can make our gifts beautiful and feel special, but also be reusable and compostable at the end of their usefulness!
Upcycling Shipping/Packing Paper
I live in an area where a lot of the eco-friendly items we use are impossible to find locally, so I order things like my personal care products and laundry soap online. The good news is that many companies (including Amazon and their partner sellers) are also trying to go green and are packing their products in uncoated kraft paper. Over the last few years, I have collected A LOT of crinkled, but perfectly usable, kraft paper, so this year I turned it into free, compostable gift wrap!
Upcycled Kraft Gift Envelopes
In my post, “Easy and Beautiful Eco-friendly Gift Wrap Ideas,” I included several of my upcycled gift wrap projects including these envelopes which are perfect for flat gifts like books and other small items. They are incredibly easy to make with basic straight line sewing — I am NOT a sewer. In fact I really, really don’t like sewing, but I was surprised at how fun and rewarding these gift wrap envelopes were to make!
How to Make Easy Upcycled Gift Envelopes, Step by Step
Step 1 — Smooth the paper and tear or cut off any damaged paper ends to get clean lines for your project. To make them more durable, I used a double layer of paper. This paper had perforations that made it easy to fold on the perforation for perfect alignment.
Step 2 — To keep the layers together, fold and crease the paper for perfect edges.
Step 3 — With simple straight line sewing in a large spaced stitch, sew the side and bottom edges.
Step 4 — Sew the top and bottom edges. I chose a simple, but decorative stitch, still using straight-line sewing.
Step 5 — Fold the envelope into shape and crease well.
Aligning the edges and creasing with a bone folder makes the sewing easier.
Step 6 — Choose your ribbon and pin it in place before attaching.
It’s OK to use what you have, eco-friendly or not.
Step 7 — Sew on the ribbon. This way it with both stay in place and be reused with the envelope.
It’s easier to sew your ribbon on, before you sew the sides.
Step 8 — Refold your envelope and sew the sides to complete the project!
Step 9 — Your upcycled, reusable gift envelope is ready for gifting!
Use What You Already Have, Eco-friendly or Not
I have a lot of leftover, less-than-green things stored up, including ribbons and glossy wrapping paper and I chose to include them in these projects. Depending on where you started, going green can be a journey and rather than throwing new things out and polluting the environment in a truly wasteful way, we can use and reuse what we already have. The ribbons on my gift envelopes are very pretty, but made with poly-blend materials which are not good for the compost pile. So when my envelopes have lost their usefulness, I will remove the ribbons before composting the paper.
Give Upcycled Gift Wrap a Try!
Upcycled gift envelopes are easy and simple to make with just straight line sewing. They give you an opportunity to put your creativity to work and make your gift wrap beautiful and special.
I hope you’ll share pictures of your creations in the comments. I will love to see them!