Wrapping paper and gift bags are a big part of Christmas. I always love to peruse the different designs, especially after the holiday, when everything is 50% off. However, we spend so much money on paper that is used once, then thrown away. Last year, I checked with our local recycling company and they confirmed that wrapping paper is not recyclable, because of the wax coating put on it.
So how can we be less wasteful and more environmentally friendly when wrapping gifts? For other occasions, I've taken to buying a nice cloth bag and putting the gifts in there, making the bag a gift unto itself. I've toyed with the idea of ordering cloth bags in bulk from a promotional products company, creating a little graphic to be printed on each bag, and using them for all gifts. And in my family, we reuse gift bags each year. I believe there's still a Christmas Barbie gift bag floating around my parents' house. There's a Ready, Aim, File program box dating from the mid-90s that is the hot box to use every Christmas. There's always a mad dash to see who can be the first to get to it.
But my child voice is still in the back of my head. "But opening presents is so much fun! Hearing the paper rip is fulfilling!" Well, for all you child voices, there is recycled wrapping paper. Smith and Hawken (whose site seems to be down), Paporganics (whose site also seems to be down right now), Of the Earth and Fish Lips all make recycled or organic wrapping paper and ribbon. Botanical Paperworks creates gift tags (and other products) that are biodegradable and contain flower seeds. And Lucky Crow makes (the most gorgeous!) reusable gift bags.
But - if you want to save money, newspaper and magazines always work well. Last year, my brother wrapped my gift in newspaper, and my boyfriend, who doesn't own a scrap of wrapping paper or ribbon, found materials he had to lovingly wrap my gift - a red tie and the junk mail sale papers.
No sacrifice necessary in this department!