The colour for Christmas is green as SA chooses zero-waste gift-wrapping

Hundreds of South Africans have embraced some of this year's biggest Christmas trends: 'upcycling' and zero-waste gift-wrapping

16 December 2018 - 00:00 By NIVASHNI NAIR
Anita Bloom, creative director of Decorex SA, with a hessian bag that works as environment-friendly festive gift wrap.
Anita Bloom, creative director of Decorex SA, with a hessian bag that works as environment-friendly festive gift wrap.
Image: Alaister Russell

If you're on Kyla Kelly's gift list, expect to receive homemade bath scrubs, a present made from an empty glass jar, or a second-hand puzzle or board game.

And your gift will be packaged in an unwrapped shoe box.

The Knysna mother is among hundreds of South Africans who have embraced some of this year's biggest Christmas trends: "upcycling" and zero-waste gift-wrapping.

"I have always been passionate about taking care of our environment as well as ourselves. I also try my best to live a lifestyle that speaks of care and gratitude, hence this Christmas going green," she said.

"We can reuse. We spend far too much money on accumulating stuff. I don't want to keep doing that."

Kelly is using glass jars and bottles for gifts and decorations.

"The glass bottles or jars make a stunning décor statement. Homemade bath scrubs with drops of essential oil will be made in some of the glass jars too."

Kelly traded old clothing in exchange for board games and puzzles at the local second-hand store.

"I love the idea of reusing and refurbishing old items into something useful and pleasing," she said.

Anita Bloom, creative director of SA's premier décor, design and lifestyle exhibition, Decorex, said a growing number of clients are asking about going green.

"They want to know the origin of the products but, more than that, what sort of impact it will leave on the environment," she said.

"One of the big trends we are seeing this year is the move away from the traditional Christmas tree and the clever use of items from around the house to create interesting and inspiring Christmas focal points," Bloom said.

Festive junk rating

● South Africans recycled about 70% of recoverable paper last year.

● During the festive season household waste increases by up to 25%, amounting to an extra 100-million tons of trash making its way to landfills each week.

Upcycling of everyday household items has fast become a trend.

"The great thing about upcycling is that anyone can do it and we are able to leave our own signature or personalised touch on these ornaments," Bloom said.

She has seen Christmas ornaments made from reused light bulbs, bottle caps and buttons that have been lying around; do-it-yourself wreaths made from recycled puzzle pieces and old newspaper; and recyclable brown paper as gift wrapping.

Gift wrap is only recyclable if it is free of embellishments and plastic coatings.

Samantha Choles of RecyclePaperZA, a group that promotes the recycling of paper products, said that paper and cardboard were re-pulped during the process.

"Things such as glitter, sticky tape, foils and coatings are not re-pulpable. While pulp mills are equipped to handle such contaminants, residues can play havoc with expensive paper machines as the pulp becomes paper," she said.

"By using paper for your gift wrap, the paper can be repulped and made into new products we use every day - including egg cartons, newspaper, cardboard boxes and cereal cartons. This is recycling."

When it comes to upcycling, ideas on Pinterest and YouTube show how to make gift boxes out of everyday items.

Choles said that people were more likely to cherish and keep a gift made from something that had been upcycled.