Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Green Wrap

Photo courtesy Flickr

Every year there’s a conflict between the Christmas glitter palace and the earnest dowdiness of green responsibility. I’m tapering off shiny, but it’s going to take a lifetime.

Some years ago, I saw a period movie with a scene showing Katharine Hepburn as a dowager queen in some medieval European time, wrapping or unwrapping a gift of state using a piece of fabric. The visual was disappointing to an eye trained in glossy red paper and shiny disposable ribbon. I’ve fooled around since with re-usable textile packaging. Some has been a hit, some not so much. I pick up cotton bandannas when I run across the right ones and use them as furoshiki, a traditional Japanese tote. Flickr’s a good source for examples. The local academic book store stocks little burlap bags that have been useful, as have its flashy mylar bubble-wrap mailers that seal with hook and loop.

The Original San Francisco Import Chain is offering Japanese mulberry paper gift wrap in jewel colors. The paper is soft, flexible, and easily reusable. Frugal matrons used to iron gift wrap, and the current product is well worth the trouble. It could also simply be dampened and smoothed out. Yesterday I put a parcel together using a full sheet, folding under the outer edge of the first wrap and then folding under the excess at either end. I secured the wrapping by taping a torn strip of choice bookbinder’s paper around the ends, but any reusable ribbon would work just as well. Some of my buys came packaged in heavy clear acetate boxes. I cut the them down to make transparent gift tags-the marker script on them floats entertainingly over the soft colored wrapping. The boxes themselves are reusable and would be elegant lined with a sheet of colored tissue or the colorful crinkle-cut substitute for packing popcorn.

I find more and more staples are wrapped with reusable ribbon, that I save over the year. I don’t cut this stuff, but configure the bow to use the whole length.

My mother and aunt lobbed the same piece of silk-screened locally made gift wrap back and forth every Christmas for nearly forty years. Each year the gift got a little bit smaller, and some years it was cunningly concealed in an extravagant additional layer.


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