Today I attended a workshop on Eco Gifting, as part of the University of Dundee’s Festival of the Future. And I can happily say I will never need to buy another gift bag or envelope again!
Why does Eco Gifting matter?
Here are some stats from the leaflet given out at the workshop. Every Christmas in Scotland:
- we use 19,000 miles of wrapping paper – that’s enough to wrap Scotland’s coastline 2.5 times!
- we throw away 50,000 tonnes of food;
- we send 95 million Christmas cards;
- we import over 10,000 tonnes of gifts from China. Many gifts are never used and may eventually be thrown out.
So it’s increasingly important to think about gifts that don’t cost the earth.
Making our own Eco Gifts
Firstly there was an insightful introductory talk about the type of gifts we typically give and what we could give instead. For example, one of the speakers, Annie Anderson from Ninewells Hospital, had heard from a teacher who’d received so many bottles of wine as “teacher gifts” she couldn’t (and didn’t want to!) use them all. Wouldn’t it be great if headteachers encouraged parents not to give gifts, or said “a hand-written card would be more than enough”. Or instead of giving more “stuff” to your family and friends, why not give a pledge to cook dinner for four Saturdays, or to take your loved one to the cinema?
There was lots of nodding and agreement in the room when the speakers said that handmade gifts were the best ones. And with that, we were all encouraged to choose one of the three tables that had been laid out with crafting materials and make some of the projects on the tables. My friend Alison and I chose firstly to make gift bags and envelopes.
Great gift bags
For the gift bags, it’s a really simple technique of wrapping a box or other rectangular object in strong paper – we used rolls of wallpaper sourced from a charity shop – glueing or taping it up, sealing one end then sliding the box out and putting twine on as handles. Et voilà! A unique handmade gift bag (see above right).
To make envelopes we drew round a template, cut them out and glued the edges down. I think you’ll agree they look great. Alison made some fab ones with maps!
From decoupage to dough!
Then we moved to the “decoupage” table and had lots of fun (and a very mindful half an hour!) pasting fragments of napkins onto glass jars to make tea light holders.
Finally we could make play dough for kids (or anyone!) out of simple ingredients such as flour, water, food colouring and scented oils. The mint one smelled divine! Or how about a few drops of lavender oil, to keep the kids chilled while they’re being creative?!
Eco gifting together
The lovely thing about doing this as a workshop is that feeling of making things together as a group, as well as all the chatting and sharing of ideas. My friend and I are now planning a pre-Christmas wrapping afternoon where we make our gift bags and tags with our kids. (Mulled wine may feature too.)
It was a fascinating and informative workshop – thanks to the organisers for a great afternoon.
Climate Challenge Fund, part of the Keep Scotland Beautiful charity