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  • Writer's pictureJoe Garms

Wrapping Paper Alternatives

For many of us, wrapping gifts is even more fun than giving them. But each year, we throw away miles and miles of wrapping paper, much of which can't be recycled because of inks, coatings, or other additives.

If you want to make a gift to the environment at the same time you're giving to other, choose any of a variety of smart, stylish, and eco-friendly ways to gift-wrap this year. To really get on the eco express, wrap gifts in vintage road maps, pages from old books, newspaper comics, foreign language newspapers, kids drawings, brown paper bags. Clean and reuse tins, bottles, or packaging from favorite stores. Or borrow the Japanese tradition of furoshiki, wrapping gifts in fabric by using scarves, thin blankets, tea towels, or other eye catching pieces of material.

But there's also a growing number of eco-friendly papers out there.

Sara Smith of Maui, Hawaii, founded the company Wrappily in an effort to "green-up giving."

"After learning that gift wrap generates over 4 million tons of trash every year, I had a 'what-if' realization: What if wrapping paper could be printed on a newspaper press, so it was made locally and east to recycle?" she says. She set up her supply chain, milling, printing and packaging in Washington State.

"I'm certain no one has over-thought wrapping paper to the extent I have," she laughs. She promotes indie artists and prints the designs on uncoated, 100-percent recyclable and compostable newsprint. Wrappily offers customized papers as well as ready-to-ship, printed ones. For example, there are birch tree, reindeer, and argyle-kit motifs by artist Nadia Hassan of Greensboro, North Carolina, and festive, midcentury-modern geometrics from Manhattan studio Hour of Nine. There's a modern take on Scandinavian folk art from Dutch designer Tamara Houtveen in a zingy palette of pinks, reds, blues, and citron.

At the Container Store, designs this season include a tailored antler print in navy and tan hues; a retro Rudolph patter; and a snowflake pattern on a gray, cable-knit printed background - all on recycled paper or recycled cotton.

Paper Source partners with mills and printers that follow sustainability practices. The company also recycles, donates, or reuses all its scrap paper.

At Grandin Road, there's a black-and-tan or red-and-gold geometric print on paper that's made from the bark of the Lokta bush in Nepal. Sales help support a women's co-op in a region of that country that was ravaged by a 2015 earthquake.

Bloomin, aColorado company, offers seed paper: richly colored sheets made from recycled paper pulp embedded with flower, vegetable, herb, grass, and tree seeds. You can use it for gift tags and cards, and then the paper can be soaked in water and planted by the gift recipient.

Los Angeles design studio Art Paper Scissors offers packets of little drawstring Hanukkah countdown goodie bags made of unbleached muslin, printed with heat-transferred blue numbers.

InterfaithLiving in Silver Spring, Maryland, offers designs on that combine Christmas and Hanukkah images and messages, printed on recycled, recyclable Kraft paper.

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