Surprise! Sustainable wrapping is making for a stylish cover-up
It’s the thought that counts. But so does the wrapping. And yet, the latter has just a fleeting existence, here one moment, ripped apart the next.
If you’re concerned about the amount of waste this generates (an estimated two million kilograms of wrapping paper is produced in the US alone each year; about half of it is never reused), sustainable gift-wrapping start-ups are now offering to wrap your gifts in upcycled and recyclable materials ranging from (really pretty) scrap cloth to colourful newspaper, old posters, and pretty bits of textile waste.
Raahul Khadaliya’s The Second Life (thesecondlife.co), based in Bengaluru, is focused on sustainable design. His signature product is a range of block-printed gift-wrapping made from newspaper. He works with artisans who use water-based dyes to create floral patterns in brilliant colours on newspaper. Movie posters get the same treatment.
The company also turns discarded paper, cardboard, cloth, and tyre tubes into planners, lanterns, cardholders, envelopes, and wrapping paper. “We want to utilise waste such that it does not need to be recycled, so many of our products are examples of direct reuse and upcycling,” Khadaliya said.
Pune-based Amruta Walvekar, a gift-wrapping specialist and founder of Wrapistry, put out three videos featuring sustainable gift-wrapping ideas last May.
Her techniques involved fashioning surplus toilet paper and old magazine pages into flowers, using the handles of brown paper bags for stems. The gifts can be covered in brown paper, wrapped in string, with the paper blooms pasted in a corner, along with a leaf or two from the garden.
For rip-resistant wraps, look east. Furoshiki, the 17th-century Japanese method of wrapping a gift with fabric and decorative knots was traditionally used to pack goods for transport.
Eco-conscious Indian companies now have their own lines of Furoshiki gift-wrapping. Aeshaane, a fashion label by Chennai-based Neesha Amrish, offers cloth wraps in striking block-printed cottons and silks.
Oh Scrap Madras, which specialises in upcycling waste fabric as potlis, or pocket bags and twine, launched their line of Furoshiki products just in time for Diwali, in October.
Once you’ve placed your order, WhatsApp instructions follow on how to wrap the cloth in different styles. There are also instructional videos on their Instagram page, @ohscrapmadras.
“We usually get scraps from garment exporters and tailoring units, but last year we held a donation drive after people kept asking us if they could send us stuff. We received everything from old curtains and bedsheets to saris,” said co-founder Dominique Lopez.
The wraps can eventually become part of the gift, doubling as a scarf or neckerchief until they are needed to wrap another gift and are passed on.
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