Archive for Christmas

A month ’til Christmas…

I feel slightly faint writing about Christmas, since I am so far from being organized. But my kids are definitely on the case, so I had better get started.

Last year I wrote about finding ways to reduce the waste associated with Christmas wrapping. This year I want to continue that conversation and highlight a particular product that might help.

Wrag Wrap is a UK company that makes lovely, reusable fabric gift wrap. The Christmas wrap selection is super, as indeed are the other offerings: these are definitely a cut above a charity shop scarf if you are looking to move away from single use wrapping (though I would still advocate using ‘found fabrics’ for wrapping in addition).

Thoughtfully, as you will see from the picture, there is even a wrap that matches this site almost perfectly.

Nicky and Louise, who own Wrag Wrap, have put a huge amount of thought and effort into creating a product that works for the environment but also works for demanding ‘wrappers’.

They examined what exactly people look for in wrapping paper and determined, for example, that the crackle was extremely important: so ‘crackle wrap‘ was born.This is a three-layered quilted wrap that makes a noise not dissimilar to paper when you manipulate it.

Another rather appealing wrap is made from repurposed festival tents (festi-wrap), sewn into functional sizes in the Midlands. I am told it was hard work going round all those festivals harvesting older tents that would otherwise have gone to landfill … but what a great idea.

The fabric for most of the wraps and gift bags that the company make is a mix between virgin and recycled polyester (Repreve). Again, this is something the pair thought hard about. Textile production can be pretty nasty in itself (I plan a post on this very soon), so just using any old fabric for the wraps wasn’t good enough for them.

Repreve is a polyester that is made from plastic bottles. Currently the wraps are about 45% Repreve, but the aim is to move to 100% recycled fibre once supply, price and quality have all been assured (there is heavy demand for recycled polyester at present which can lead to corners being cut: Wrap Wrap have tracing measures in place to guard themselves against ‘cheating’ by their supplier).

Helpfully, for all those of you who were not schooled in the Japanese art of fabric wrapping – furoshiki - the Wrap Wrap website offers not only instructions, but also nifty stretch wraps which are like large, elasticated christmas crackers that even I can handle. And wraps come with integral ties as well as matching fabric message card holders (like old fashioned luggage labels): the website provides a printable message card template.

Really, they have thought of almost everything.

So what is the downside? First, many of the wraps are made in China for reasons of cost and raw material availability (Repreve is processed in China). But the quality is high and these are not heavy items to ship so the footprint doesn’t suffer too much from shipping emissions.

Mostly it’s the price that might put people off: wraps run from about £6 to £10 (plus a flat £1.99 shipping), depending upon the size. Although this is in line with furoshiki cloths on other websites, it does make it unlikely that you will wrap everything in one of these from the get go.

But if you love great wrapping, you might think about building up gradually (and using old scarves or the like for other gifts as you amass your stash). Happily, if you don’t live in the UK, you won’t be denied this opportunity: Wrag Wrap ships via Royal Mail international, charging you actual rates (unlikely to be much more than a few pounds as mail is pretty good value in the UK).

Of course, if you want a stash you are going to have to grab back the wrap as soon as you give the gift. Given how nice these things are, that might result in fisticuffs….I’ll leave you to figure that one out yourself. Better, perhaps, to consider the wrap an integral – and very nice – part of your gift and share the love.

[Note: I was sent samples of the wrap for review. My Christmas tree will thank Wrag Wrap for that!]

The rush to wrap

So, Christmas is almost upon us. The excitement in my house is palpable.

While I, too, am getting in the holiday spirit, I am also mindful of the many tasks that lie ahead. Inevitably I will put off wrapping until the last minute; I’ll be up late, late on Christmas eve for sure.

One of my strongest memories of childhood Christmases is of my beloved grandmother rushing around with a basket, collecting and neatly folding wrapping paper for reuse the following year. At the time I viewed this as a bizarre annoyance. Now, of course, I do the same.

Except I can’t collect the paper from my own presents, because I typically don’t use any. I have become a massive fan of fabric wrapping. It’s much quicker (critical at 2am on Christmas morning), less wasteful and the materials can easily be stored year on year.

I use lengths of fabric, old scarves and, to the extent that I have them, proper Japanese furoshiki cloths. There are numerous fancy ways to use cloths for wrapping, but I tend to opt for the basic method of cross-tying the diagonal corners. Not creative, but functional.

I also maintain a stock of fabric bags. My mother in law made a buch of drawstring bags a while back and I have guarded these with my life. I have also added to my stock from the dollar store and elsewhere, though it is hard to find large-size fabric bags at a reasonable price (and I am too lazy to make them myself). If you are prepared to invest a bit here, Etsy has a huge range of options, of course.

If I run out of fabric bits and bags, my next choice is to use old pictures stored up from when my kids were in kindergarten. If you are a parent and your kids were lucky enough to have a teacher who liked paint (and mess) you will almost certainly have brought home stacks and stacks of artwork which you will have had a hard time throwing out. At last a win-win solution: home-made wrapping paper!

There are a number of other great options, including decorated newsprint or brown paper bags. If you are more organised and patient than me, you can make these look really fancy. See this TreeHugger post for some great suggestions (if you can handle the slow scrolling through pages, which I hate, on TreeHugger posts). The point is that you can give attractive looking gifts and still conserve resources (the big factoid from the net is that if every US family wrapped just 3 gifts in recycled materials, we would save the equivalent of 45,000 paper-covered football fields).

My last plea: please don’t use that shiny plastic wrap. It screams out land-fill even as it sucks up needles from your tree with its static field.

Now I have to go and wrap….Merry Christmas!

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