Over the holidays, I had a truly minor epiphany.
It started while I was wrapping presents. We've made it a point to buy wrapping paper with a high recycled content, which I really hate (it seems to tear every time it encounters the corner of a box). Mrs. R. uses paper gift bags sometimes -- the advantage being that no wrapping gets torn and the bag can be reused several times. The problem with paper gift bags is that after a relatively small number of uses, they start to look beat up. Hardly the packaging that says "best to you in this the happiest of seasons!"
What got my attention this year was the gift packaging used by an aged relative of mine from (long ago and) far away. Cloth gift bags. The cloth is printed in patterns similar to those used on wrapping paper. It's more durable than the hard-finish ("calendered"?) paper gift bags. It conforms well, never tears at corners, and should stay looking festive for years and years. My ancestor told me that she picked them up at church bazaars and the like -- half a buck to, at the most, three dollars a pop. Over a small number of uses, cheaper than wrapping paper. Some of the bags had double handles, some had drawstrings of various designs, but none of them looked (nor apparently, were) difficult to make.
It's a little thing, but to my mind it's an example of the kind of "better solution" which is better, cheaper, more sustainable and less wasteful than the way we've traditionally done stuff (at least, in the Rendell family). Change, even when motivated by a sense of personal responsibility, can be a pleasant thing.
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