The holiday spirit was alive and well this year during Shop Everything MSU, the annual Surplus Store holiday sale. It's easy to get caught up in the glitz and glam of shiny new things, but at SSRC we like to practice zero waste behaviors around the holidays, too.
While shoppers were bustling around the Surplus Store and perusing over 20 other MSU vendors, our Surplus Elves were getting creative in Frosty’s Workshop. Holiday decorations and the tunes of the season filled the education center as people arrived with the goodies they bought. We wrapped customers' presents in upcycled fabric, maps and newsprint, as well as secondhand holiday paper, metal tins, bags and bows. The materials had been donated to Spartan Upcycle throughout the year from the public and our staff. Materials often come to Upcycle when they're not in good enough shape to sell at the store, or when they're too valuable to simply recycle with the rest.
By using these materials, we encouraged zero-waste and reuse practices that eliminate the need to buy new gift wrap. With cloth wrapping, the gift recipient can reuse the cloth to wrap another gift or give it a new purpose as a cleaning rag or napkin. Reusable tin containers, bins, tubs and bags were also utilized since they have another purpose once the gift is unwrapped. We had loads of newspaper to serve as an upcycle alternative to tissue paper. Still, we used some of the traditional wrapping materials, but they had been partially used before reaching us.
"It felt good to bring cheer in an eco-friendly way," said Katie Deska, education coordinator. "Hopefully some of the paper wrapping will get gently opened so it can be saved again until next year."
Second-hand gifts and upcycled or reused wrapping can transform your trash can this holiday season. Help us spread joy this holiday season and try one of these upcycle or zero waste techniques yourself -- reduction and reuse are the key!
1) Use newspaper in place of tissue paper
2) Wrap gifts with scrap fabric or old t-shirts, or jazz up newspaper or paper bags with paints and markers
3) Swap gift bags for reusable baskets, totes, bins, etc.
4) Shop first for used items like clothing, electronics, home goods and other presents!
5) Make holiday decorations from what you have in the house. Pinterest and other sites have an endless supply of upcycling ideas.
6) Give the gift of an experience rather than an item.
7) Save gently used wrapping paper from this year to use next year.