Green Gift Wrapping

The below is an excerpt from Danny Seo's new book Simply Green Giving.

Natural box fillers

For Christmas one year, I sent all of my friends and business colleagues a hand-poured soy candle in individual vintage glass molds. Since almost all of them needed to be shipped, I had to take extra care to package them properly, but was left with a dilemma in finding ecological alternatives to Styrofoam peanuts and plastic bubble wrap.

These box filler alternatives not only protect the contents in the box, but can also add a sense of drama to the overall gift. One friend, who received a candle protected by fresh pine needles, kept the box full of needles at her office desk because she loved the scent of the fresh pine.

Look to the Great Outdoors, supermarket aisle and even your own recycling bins for filler alternatives.

  • From nature: Use fresh pine needles cut directly from trees in your own yard or trim fragrant evergreen bushes; if it's the holiday season, prune your Christmas tree and use those branches.
  • From the yard: Borrow fresh straw from the yard or buy a bale of it from a local nursery if you plan on shipping multiple gifts. One bale is inexpensive and leftover straw can be used as mulch in your own garden.
  • From the recycling bin: Mix newspaper, office paper and scent strips from magazines through a paper shredder. The scent strips will perfume the paper filler.
  • From the supermarket: Instead of Styrofoam peanuts, use actual peanuts. Buy large, inexpensive bags of roasted peanuts (still in their shell) and surround the gift with them. Not only will the gift be protected, but the recipient can munch on the peanuts.
  • From the trash: When replacing bedroom or decorative pillows, save the filling for shipping purposes. Rip the pillows open and use the fluffy contents to fill a box. When the box arrives at the destination, the cloud-like filler will make the gift presentation even more dramatic.

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