Today I have a genius eco-friendly gift wrap idea to try from Camille Wilkinson, author of the new book Gift Wrap Green*, and photographed by Michael Wicks.
Camille’s beautiful book shows you how to learn the tricks of beautiful gift wrapping, from making simple bows and neat corners to mastering elaborate Japanese fabric techniques, all with material that is recyclable, reusable, and sustainable.
A Clever Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Idea
Today she is showing Moral Fibres readers how to transform a favourite sweater that has seen better days into a stylish wrap for a bottle of wine, as well as giving eco-friendly gift wrap variations for different shaped gifts.
You Will Need
A Wine bottle
An old sweater
Needle and thread
1. For this eco-friendly gift wrap idea, insert the bottle into the sleeve of the sweater to measure where to cut. The cuff should start just below the top of your bottle. Mark the bottle length and remove. Cut the sweater sleeve off so that it is at least 3cm (1¼ in) longer than your bottle. (If you would prefer a nice snug fit, use a child’s jumper, but do make sure the sleeve is long enough.) 2. Thread the needle with a double thickness of thread and run it through the loose loops at the cut end of the sweater sleeve. Pull gently to gather and tie off. 3. You can leave the cuff end as it is, fold or roll it, or tie it with a ribbon.
Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Variations
There are quite a few gift eco-friendly gift wrap variations that you can make using a similar technique:
To make a woollen belly band
Neatly cut off the ribbed waist of a child’s jumper and slide it onto your wrapped box. You are looking for a snug fit, and if using an adult sweater, this could be achieved by using the cuff.
To make a gift bag
Cut the sleeve to the desired length, turn it inside out and sew straight across the raw end. Turn through to the right side and finish off with a ribbon to close.
I love this idea – it’s such an easy and creative way to reuse something that could have otherwise ended up in the bin.
Is it possible to have an ethical Christmas without stress? I think so.
Whilst we often hear that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”, sometimes Christmas can also be the most stressful. When you’re feeling up against it, the additional challenge of trying to ensure the goods you’re buying or the services you’re using are as ethical as possible can be just too much. Then you feel guilty for spending your hard-earned cash on something that really doesn’t sit well with your conscience.
How To Have An Ethical Christmas
The team at Ethical Consumer have come up with some great ideas about how you can have a more sustainable Christmas. And because we know that time and, or, money isn’t always available, they’ve also come up with some great alternatives to help you have the most ethical Christmas possible without getting too stressed.
Top of everyone’s Christmas list this year is to be plastic-free. A sneaky way plastic enters the Christmas eco-system is in the form of wrapping paper. Anything with glitter on can’t be recycled. And many papers are actually lined with a thin film of plastic.
A great alternative is to use old fabric to wrap up gifts. Alternatively, you could incorporate the wrapping as part of the gift using scarves, facecloths, tea towels, and handkerchiefs to wrap smaller items. There are other eco-friendly gift wrap ideas too, where you can use old knitwear to create some stunning effects.
That’s probably not going to work if you’re wrapping a large children’s toy though. So if you are buying wrapping paper then opt for a recycled roll. You can find 100% recycled wrapping paper online from Re-Wrapped.
A trip to the supermarket can become laden with plastic. Everything from fruit and veg, to the turkey and Christmas pudding, comes in some form of plastic packaging. The easiest way to go plastic-free is to shop local, and independent, taking your own containers and bags with you. And where necessary, getting your purchases wrapped in paper, not plastic. Just don’t throw away your older plastic containers in favour of buying new ones.
A great way to help ‘cut the stuff’ and the stress of trawling round shops could be to gift an adventure rather than an actual thing. Theatre tickets, workshops ranging from terrarium making to pattern cutting, or membership to organisations like the Woodland Trust are just a few ideas.
For some people though, particularly children, there is a real joy in seeing them open a physical present. If you’re lucky enough to have a high street with independent stores nearby then try and support them. But if you’ve not, then there’s no need to feel guilty about online shopping.
Several studies have shown that this form of shopping is no more environmentally damaging than visiting a bricks and mortar store. And in many instances, it’s better. You just need to steer clear of Amazon, with its tax avoidance strategies, poor environmental and worker’s rights record.
As part of our Amazon alternatives series, there’s a full rundown of the most ethical online shops there. In short, a good all-rounder is Ethical Shop, with presents for all ages. Another is Acala for health and beauty products from a brand committed to zero waste. And another is the Viva! online shop for vegan-friendly gifts. Their range includes soy-candles, wine club membership, chocolate, and clothing.
There’s always a last-minute panic purchase. A forgotten present or a party gift required. That’s why knowing the top 5 most ethical high street stores can be a life-saver and a stress-free option when you just don’t have time for anything else. Our top shops are:
Lush for creative and sweet-smelling gifts from an ethical business committed to the real Living Wage, the Fair Tax Mark, and cruelty-free ingredients.
The Co-op Group is owned by an active membership, not shareholders. With a clear action plan on climate change and waste, handily they offer everything from food to electricals.
Marks & Spencer* are a cornerstone of the British high street, and Plan A demonstrates their commitments to sustainability. They’re also listed in the palm oil-free guide, with the majority of their gift boxes of chocolates from truffles to Neapolitans clear of the problematic ingredient.
WHSmith scores highly in the environmental reporting and supply chain management categories. This makes them the best high street bookseller by far and available across the UK.
John Lewis’* partnership company structure makes them more progressive than their counterparts. From garden products to perfume it’s a one-stop-shop that’s readily available in most cities.
Here’s to a stress free merry Christmas that doesn’t cost the earth!
I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a UK based eco blog. I'm a sustainability expert, and my aim is to make sustainability simple, by researching and writing on all things environmental - from product guides to breaking down big ideas - so you don't have to.
As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now!
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