I love pretty gift wrap. But I've hated learning that most wrapping paper can't be recycled. Turns out, including shiny and sparkly paper with your recyclables is only "wishful recycling" and actually worse for the environment than throwing them in the landfill/incinerator-bound trash. According to Earth911, "including it in the bin with other paper products can make an entire load unrecyclable." Laminated and shiny foil papers are the worst offenders.
I'm not a fan of enviro-guilt, but I do love to figure out clever hacks that make things nicer and less, well, trashy all at once. Which is why I LOVE the idea of a reusable gift wrap that won't end up in the trash AND can be incorporated into the gift itself! It's the perfect way to up your gifting game and up-level your environmental karma, all at once.
So my typical, time-saving, go-to option for small stuff is to save and re-use those sturdy paper gift bags. Just add a bit of colored tissue paper, twisted loosely at the top of the bag. It works. And is economical, even. And nobody seems to notice or care, or if they do, I just tell them it's environmentally-friendly. It's perfect for kids' birthday gifts and quick holiday items.
Larger items are trickier though, and I'm not proud to say that have resorted to sheets and even garbage bags in a pinch. Amazon years ago sent me a large shabby blue gift wrap bag that I have kept and used about 10 times since. None of these options are pretty.
But here's a new idea: the decorative laundry bag!
So here's a situation. My niece is heading off from her home in Maryland to college this fall. I was thinking that a colorful black-eyed susan state flower stuff sack would be a great way to pack a gift of towels and sheets for her. She can save the bag and then haul to the laundry room (or home) with style during the school year.
Or, if I were putting together a wedding shower gift, bright floral prints with large sturdy canvas bags make it easy to wrap even the most awkward of gift items.
Funny story: when I got married, my mother-in-law gifted to me about 30 different pieces of lingerie, which she presented on a clothesline. For real, check out this photo from my 2003 shower!
A laundry bag would have been the perfect way to cap off this epic gift, and I'd probably still have it today, as opposed to all that lingerie which either doesn't fit or has long since been replaced by comfort-wear from Target. The decorative canvas bag makes for pretty packaging, and a nice bonus gift to be used rather than thrown away, maybe to keep things organized on the honeymoon, or re-use as gift wrap for the next wedding she attends.
Clothesline gifts are popular and adorable for baby shower gifts too. The picture below was from a "bring a cute onesie" shower I attended (years ago, also). Laundry bags are the perfect compliment for packaging up the adorable outfits and getting the new parents prepared for all the dirty laundry they have in their future. Yup, babies certainly make a lot of dirty laundry so it may as well have a cute place to hang out!
Even if you don't love the idea of wrapping gifts in laundry bags, take some time to think about ways you could cut down on the non-recyclable wrapping you use. Upcycling newspaper, wrapping in scarves, and re-using those gift bags till they fall apart are other fine options! I'm trying to do my part, however small to make sure my kids can still visit Florida when they grow up. I'd love to hear more ideas too. Thanks, happy gifting, oh - and...
Disclaimer: just in case this wasn't obvious, Metro Shower Curtains now sells decorative laundry bags. Several patterns are now available, but if you see a shower curtain pattern, it could be printed to order on a laundry bag too. Contact me if you have questions or suggestions!