Christmas: The time of year when my credit card balance is ballooning as quickly as my waistline. Luckily, the recession sales are still popping up everywhere. That means better gifts for the people on my list.
So with all the savings out there, why would I want to waste potential gift (or rent) money on something as frivolous as wrapping paper?
There are phenomenal gift wrap papers available in an assortment of beautiful colours and designs (and hopefully not a Santa Claus or Snowman in sight). But these can easily start at six dollars a roll – and that roll often is only enough to wrap a few presents. Cheaper paper is available, but most of it is tacky and unappealing.
This year I am opting out of the gift wrap market, and wrapping all of my presents in newspaper. It’s cheap (free if you raid your neighbour’s recycling bin), great for the environment, and with a little effort, it can be attractive and personal too.
Sure, I will miss that sense of pride I get when I hand someone a carefully wrapped gift, shrouded in beautiful paper — after all, the look on a person’s face as (s)he both anticipates the contents, and admires the effort put into disguising it is a huge part of why gift giving is fun. But then, as quickly as the joy appears, the destruction begins. The paper is ripped from the gift, tossed on the floor, and forgotten.
According the 2008 guide, “Dreaming of a Green Christmas,” generated by the Recycling Council of British Columbia, Canadians produce an additional 545 000 tons of waste over the holiday season – and most of it is gift wrap and shopping bags. We could “save enough paper to cover 45 000 hockey rinks” by reusing paper on just 3 gifts.
I made the decision not to purchase any more wrapping paper in the fall. I wrapped a birthday present in a Bell advertisement, adorned with the quirky Porter Airlines raccoons and a gift message of cut-out letters à la a ransom note.
I’ve also wrapped gifts in the pages of a comic book. The bold colours and glossy pages make the package pop, and the illustrations allow for creative accessorizing.
Full colour ads are easy to find in all the daily newspapers, and often feature whimsical cartoons or bold landscapes. The animated mascot of the Future Shop ads bears a striking resemblance to my partner, making the images perfect for identifying his gifts.
Not into the cutting and pasting? A page of classifieds or the daily news will do the trick just fine. Just be sure to check the content – murders and stock market crashes make lousy decoration.
Since “going Green” is chicer than ever, your friends and family will likely appreciate the gesture. Even if they don’t, the planet and your pocketbook will.