The process of making something doesn’t end with a finished product, but with the end of the product. Looking at the entire life of something made means to look at its life-cycle. William McDonough devoted an entire book, Cradle to Cradle, to explain the necessity of this holistic approach to achieving a true ecological balance. He has also created a rating system for products that bears the same name, and is really the one to look at regarding the eco-viability of an item.
As a small step into this, I have been using the paper that framed my watercolor exhibit last year to wrap gifts. Since we are talking about 34 yards x 4 foot rolls (408 square feet to be precise), unless I begin to give away bicycles or cars, I may be using this for the rest of my life.
I also made my own gift tags, you can too… maybe cut up some old greeting cards, and used fishing line to attach them. I had it left over from hanging artwork. It’s super-strong… just think of pulling fish out of water. Target carries it pretty cheaply, as probably do other big stores.
I would recommend this paper – Spectra ArtKraft – to others as a boldly colored economical gift wrapping option. It is colored through to both sides and comes in beautiful, warm, intense hues. These are the reasons I chose it, since it can cover large areas with color and won’t show white when folded, scratched, torn or on its edges. It is a bit thick, though, and folds best over boxes rather than over soft things as I have shown it to crumple (photo below). The 48″ rolls are a bit too gigantic to cut comfortably, but it also comes in 36″ rolls.
The place I purchased it from, an educational supply store in Hawthorne has unfortunately closed. It was a good deal there as they sold it by the yard rather than by the roll, something that is hard to find. They were not in the right location, and definitely not in the right economy, to survive through the sale of educational materials. Since this paper is used for school projects or bulletin boards, your best bet would be to look into a school supply store.
Turning this bulletin board paper into gift wrap is a good example of a creating good deal through unintended use. It seems that many items for sale are priced according to their context of intended use, rather than as a direct result of manufacturing costs.
(you can see here how the paper, being thick, can fold badly around soft things)
(you can see here how the paper, the night after setup, absorbed water and got wavy)
(but it straightens out again over hard surfaces and when rolled up)
As a final note, if you’re going to purchase it by the roll, think of colors that can fit most gift wrapping situations. In my case, I was lucky: the pink and blue work for babies and baby showers; the white works for weddings; the red, white and blue work for Christmas; the blue works for Hanukkah; and for birthdays, well, you choose it to fit the person. The magic, or personalized detailing, is in the color and type of ribbon you decide to finish it off with… it can frame the gift as soft, goofy, elegant or conservative!