Minimising seasonal waste, part one: gift giving

Though I’m still in denial of Christmas’ impending arrival, there is no moving the date. The silly season and all the waste it generates is upon us.

Considering we just celebrated Charlotte’s sixth birthday, I thought I would share a few simple tips we use to reduce waste at times where plenty can be found. Here’s what we did and how you can use them for your own birthday or Christmas parties.

To avoid plastic-coated wrapping paper, I typically resort to wrapping gifts in children’s drawings, or more recently, using fabric squares.

Japanese people have used a technique of wrapping precious items in a cloth called Furoshiki for centuries, but I don’t want to be a white voice explaining a tradition and culture I have no real experience with. So instead, if you want to know more about this practice, I encourage you to research the history online (or borrow a library book), or if you want a visual demonstration, at least watch a Japanese person do it. Here is a short 57-second Youtube video of Marie Kondo wrapping some gifts.

While my own cloth-wrapped gifts aren’t nearly as elaborate as what you’ll uncover on a Pinterest search of Furoshiki, my efforts serve the purpose. I use an old sheet cut into large squares which I hemmed on my sewing machine.

On Charlotte’s recent birthday, I wrapped books, a drink bottle, a porcelain doll and clothes into fabric parcels. Despite having never been presented with gifts wrapped in cloth, she simply untied them and revelled in the contents. She never commented that it was unusual or strange. Then, when the gift-giving was complete, I folded the cloth squares and stored them away.

I also tried wrapping a gift for a friend’s child in fabric before posting it to their home in Sydney. The mother was delighted to see a less-wasteful approach and was committed to reusing the fabric another time (though, it was currently being used as a pirate head scarf: another great use for the fabric).

If you don’t own a sewing machine, instead of cutting and hemming old fabric, you could dig through op-shops for old scarves to use. Regardless, this is a great alternative to paper wrapping that also doesn’t take up much storage space when not in use.

Next up, part two: less wasteful parties.

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