Recycling bin inspiration – gift wrap

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Whenever I make a card or another craft project, I save the bits of left over paper, ribbon, etc.  I hate throwing it away and sometimes those little pieces come in handy.   The only bits that go in the recycling bin are usually fragments that are too small to be useful. 

 I am also pretty obsessive about saving gift bags, tissue paper, ribbon and, as much paper as possible.  But yesterday, instead of using conventional wrapping materials to wrap a couple of birthday gifts for a friend, I decided to see what I could reuse from the recycling bin.  I knew I had tossed a fashion magazine onto the pile of newspapers an flyers waiting to go outside into the curbside bin earlier in the week – I figured I could find a page or two that would work to wrap a small box containing a pair of earrings.

I liberated the magazine (temporarily), and after flipping through it a few times, I settled on a page that displayed a number of spring blouses.  The blouses were laid out in rows – I wrapped the box so a couple of the blouses were visible on top and a minimum of the text was showing.  Instead of ribbon, I used a piece of hemp coloured twine I originally bought to use in a beading project.  For a tag, I cut out a blouse from the leftover page, glued it to another piece of paper I pulled from the blue bin, punch a hole in the top and attached to the box with a piece of excess twine.  Cute and sustainable.

Wrapping paper and tag from discarded magazine

The second gift was a book.  I was going put it into a gift bag and call it a day, but I went back to the recycling bin and found a glossy flyer about a dance series coming to town.  The photos were in full colour and quite stunning.  My colleague, Julie, who is currently in California making fabulous mosaics, is also the Queen of Recycle and Reuse (check out her blog, Poubelle  Chic) –  a couple of months ago, she made a bunch of envelopes from old calendars.  Following her example, I decided to try to make an envelope/pouch for the book, using full-page photos of dancers.

I started by trimming one of pages so it was about 1/4 – 1/2 inch smaller than the other page on three sides. 

Step 1 - fold over edges on 3 sides

Then I folded the edges of the larger page over on the sides and bottom, leaving the top open.  If I had a bone folder, it would have made a cleaner fold, but I ran over the edges with the handle of my scissors a couple of times to smooth it out. 

I cut a small notch out of each corner on the lower edge and glued down all three sides to the smaller page.   

Step 2 - notch edges on bottom fold

Step 3 - glue both sides of envelope together

To close the envelope, I folded down the top of the larger piece of the paper to make a flap. 

Step 4 - fold down top edge to make envelope flap

I then inserted a couple of coloured brads into the flap and wrapped lengths of embroidery thread around the envelope (with the book inside) and tied them off at the top, around the brads. 

Step 5 - wrap thread around envelope and tie off at brads

At one point, one of the brads tore out, but I fixed it with a small piece of tape.  I poked a hole through the tape with my trusty hole-making tool ( a little silver stick with a pointy end used to get nuts out of the shell).  The brad went back in without any trouble and held.

I slipped the card (also handmade) in between the threads.  Next time, I would ensure that the flap at the top was a bit wider to make it easier to close the envelope.  Even after wrapping the thread around the package, I still had to stick small pieces of tape in a couple of strategic places to get the flap to stay down.  But I was pleased with the overall result.

Gift envelope with birthday card

My final recycling bin project was a plant stick.  I had purchased some tulips for my neighbour who is ill and decided to jazz it up with a decorative pot I found in the basement (I really don’t throw anything out).  Earlier in the day, my husband had found a stack of wooden sticks (coffee stirrers?) that had probably come home with my son.  I decided to keep them to use to mark plants.  For my neighbour’s plant, I made a plant stick with a die-cut flower, a couple of circles punched out of the dance flyer and a brad.  I attached the flower to one of the circles with the brad, glued the wooden stick to one of the circles and glued the circles together, using my glue gun.  For a final touch, I created a bit more visual interest, by curling the petals of the flower up slightly with my fingers.  Voila!  A cheery little addition to a pot of grocery store tulips in about the time it took the glue gun to heat up. 

Decorative plant stick made from recycled materials

I force Amaryllis bulbs to give as Christmas gifts every year and I will definitely be adding some seasonally themed sticks to the pots next year.  I will also be making recycled paper envelopes to wrap flat gifts.  I may even save the dance program to use again.  My husband will love that – he would like me to keep less and toss more.  But, as I like to tell him, you just never know when you can put spare paper and other little bits and pieces to good use.

I have linked up to the following: Think Pink Sundays at Flamingo Toes ; Making Monday Marvelous at C.R.A.F.T. ; Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou ; Get Your Craft on Tuesday at Today’s Creative Blog; Take-a-Look Tuesdays at Sugar Bee Crafts; Wednesday Wowzers at oopsy daisy; Flaunt It Fridays at Dotted Line Crafts; The Cure for the Common Monday at Lines Across My Face

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