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Heard on CultureShift, Weekend Edition

How to Make Recycled Holiday Gift Wrap

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Image credit: Meta Stange

There are so many decorations, giftwrap and glitter this time of year. But all of that décor usually ends up in the garbage. That’s where trash crafting comes in.

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There are so many decorations, gift wrap and glitter this time of year. But all of that décor usually ends up in the trash.

That’s where Gabi Gibson comes in. Gibson is a Detroit-based trash crafter, and she uses plastic bags, netting and newspaper to cut down on waste in the world of gift wrap. She tells WDET’s Annamarie Sysling that her ideas for reuse come from the fact that there’s just more trash this time of year.

These things that make the holidays special for us can be detrimental to the environment.” - Gabi Gibson, trash crafter

Meta Stange
Meta Stange

Between Thanksgiving and and Christmas, there’s an influx of waste that happens and this can be anything from gifts to the things that wrap the gifts, even the decorations. Think about how many strings of lights go dead every year, where do those end up? Broken ornaments. These things that make the holidays special for us can be detrimental to the environment,” says Gibson. 

Click on the player above to hear a conversation about trash crafting, read excerpts from the conversation below, and see how-to videos on making your recycled gift wrap.

Can you recycle regular gift wrap?

Glitter is a no.” - Gabi Gibson, trash crafter

If you can take the tape off of the paper before you try to recycle it, Gibson says that’s helpful.

She recommends ripping around the little areas that have tape on them, and trying to use less tape overall while wrapping presents. Remove ribbons as those are not typically recyclable, and she says to ditch the glitter.

Anything with glitter is difficult because those are basically micro-plastics that end up in water sources, they end up in our water and they get eaten by the things that we eat. Glitter is a no,” says Gibson. 

What is plarn?

Plastic yarn, it’s all over the internet. Gibson says “people are even making sleep mats, baskets and all kinds of decorations. And you can find plastic bags anywhere.”

How to Make Your Own Gift Wrap Out of Trash

The classic go-to is always newspaper, magazines, things like that are the first place to start,” says Gibson, who adds that it’s fun to dress up the paper with paint and stamps made from wine corks.Gibson recommends polka dot patterns in metallics or brightly colored paint to make the pattern pop. 

How to make your own bows and “poofs”

Gibson likes to use the netted bags that are sometimes used for produce by grocery stores. She says you can cut them into ribbons, they have “great texture.” She also says plastic bags are a great and unexpected source for decoration materials, and when cut into thin strips it’s referred to as “plarn.”


Annamarie Sysling, Environmental Reporter and Producer, Detroit Today

Annamarie Sysling is a producer for “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson.” When she’s not at work, Sysling is likely walking or biking somewhere in the city, listening to a neuroscience podcast or eating ice cream.

annamarie.sysling@wdet.org Follow @asysling

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