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Not All Wrapping Is Created Equal: Creative, Green Ideas for Your Holiday Wrapping

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A brown paper bag like this could be reused again just by swapping the tag.2 / 9
This paper flower can be attached to a gift bag or a box. Put several in different sizes together for a fun little arrangement.3 / 9
For the seamstress in your family, you could decorate the gift with all kinds of bits and bobs left over from various projects or from household items that are past their prime - just use the pieces that are still good!4 / 9
This is a really cute idea using those old newspapers in your recycling bin!5 / 9
Another great newspaper wrap with baker's twine this time and really adorable tags. I love dressing up my gifts with fun tags, which can be made from practically anything. Try using rubber stamps to add the monogram.6 / 9
This is a fun one for a kid's gift!7 / 9
I love this - the star was made by cutting rings from a paper towl roll.There is no shortage of earth-friendly wrapping ideas. For the seamstress in your family, you could decorate the gift with all kinds of bits and bobs left over from various projects or from household items that are past their prime - just use the pieces that are still good!8 / 9
There is no shortage of earth-friendly wrapping ideas once you get the creative juices flowing. This one reuses packing material for tissue paper.9 / 9

I'm one of those weird people who love wrapping Christmas presents. I actually look forward to it! I can remember many pre-Christmas evenings spent by the fireplace in my parents' house with my sisters, watching White Christmas and wrapping presents. While dreaming and making plans to be Vera Ellen when I grew up, I competed with my sisters for the best-wrapped gift of the year! But I have to admit that, usually, my little sister Abby won that competition.

Now, years later, I have a new competition - with myself: how can I make a beautifully-wrapped gift that's also environmentally responsible?

1.I hate keeping extra clutter in my house that I don't need, but something I do save is used wrapping and tissue paper to be used again.

2.When that old paper has wrapped its last gift and it's time to buy a new roll - don't! Look around the house and find another way to wrap it. Be creative; can part of the gift itself be the wrapping? Last year, my sister (Abby, the creative one), wrapped her gift to me in a beautiful scarf.

3.If you must purchase a new roll of wrapping paper, look for paper with recycled content or has the Sustainable Forestry Initiative logo. Stay away from paper with glitter and other "extras" on it, as these things make the paper non-recyclable.

4.Use gift bags instead of boxes and paper. I used to think bags were bad because they didn't take any work to wrap - "where's the love in that wrapping?" I thought. But bags are incredibly easy to reuse and you can customize them year to year with different tags and ribbons - made from organic or recycled materials of course! I like the plain, brown paper bags because they can be used for any occasion - Christmas, birthday, baby shower, baptism - and you get to be creative and have fun personalizing it.

5.Try making bows and ribbons from recycled materials. Part of the fun is seeing what you can make with things you already have - this will help reduce the strain on both your holiday budget and the environment. Fabric bows can be made from old sweaters (like the one you accidentally shrank in the dryer last winter), t-shirts or jeans. Paper ribbons can be made out of strips from the glittery wrapping paper you saved from last Christmas (paper ribbon curls up with a scissors just as well as that plastic stuff you buy at the store - try it!).

6.After your Christmas morning rituals this year, remember to take care to neatly roll or fold the glittery paper, bags and tissue and tuck them away to reuse next year! Reuse what you can and recycle the rest.

Americans toss out an extra 25 million tons of trash over the holidays, largely due to packaging. I encourage you to be creative and see if you can help lighten the load this year! (See below for a few fun ideas to get your creative juices flowing! Images are from

To simple, green living,

Carrie Brusven

Changing the world, one home and office at a time.

"You must be the change you hope to see in the world." -Gandhi

Carrie Brusven is an Independent Green Irene Eco-Consultant based out of Moorhead, MN and her website can be found at Carrie offers Green Home Makeovers and "Go Green" Workshops/Parties to help you on your own path to greener living. Contact Carrie to schedule a makeover for your home: