Solving the Packaging Problem for Unique Gifts


Could 2015 be a second-hand Christmas? There’s certainly been a flurry of activity around second-hand shopping this year. TRAID ran their #Secondhandfirst Week in November inspiring people to buy, swap and wear second-hand clothing. I joined in on Twitter and Instagram, posting pictures of my favourite second-hand pieces including a vintage Chelsea Girl tea dress, Florida thrift shop frock and bargain charity shop Christmas top. As well as lots of Instagram activity, events were held across London and the UK, and we were all encouraged to pledge to source more of our wardrobe second-hand.

There’s also the second-hand Christmas campaign by Truly Gifting’s founder and MD Tiia Sammallahti. I had a chat with Tiia last week to find out more about her new venture into sustainable gifting. ‘Truly Gifting’ are, quite literally, selling the second-hand ethos. What started as an MBA business plan has quickly been put into action by Tiia and her passionate team as they produce packaging and labelling to make second-hand gifting a viable gift giving option. I’ve written about the etiquette of giving second-hand/used/vintage gifts before. For my PhD research I interviewed mothers about their habits for buying second-hand childrens’ clothes, toys and equipment and it came up that some would give second-hand items as gifts to other people’s children but only if they looked nearly-new (or new) and/or they knew the parents well. There was an etiquette of gifting second-hand.

trulygifting selectionboxes

For many adults gifting second-hand items is a no-go. This is different of course to regifting presents, which three-quarters of people find acceptable. Yet there is a rise in environmentally conscious consumers and voluntary simplifiers who don’t want to buy into the commercialisation of Christmas. For them, a carefully selected second-hand book, necklace or retro wall clock is a thoughtful gift and a way of asserting their beliefs. As a long-standing study on gifting suggests, ‘We give, receive and reject gifts strategically, thereby symbolically predicating identity’ Sherry et al. (1983:159).

The team at Truly Gifting recognised the need to make second-hand gifts more socially acceptable if we are to move towards a more sustainable future. They have created a range of packaging items that make it easier for us to gift second-hand pieces that would normally be devoid of labels and bubble wrap. A range of boxes, made themselves from recycled and responsibly sourced paper, offer a neat way for us second-hand shoppers to gift something unique. They are also great if you make your own gifts and need a way to present your handmade creations. Furthermore, the boxes come with little message cards describing the Truly Gifting ethos – ‘we extend the lifespan of products and reduce the burden on the planet’.

Take a look at

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Sustainable Wrapping Paper Alternatives

At Christmas last year I searched high and low for recycled wrapping paper and eventually settled on buying some from Oxfam (although I’m not sure whether it was made from recycled paper). Along with Christmas cards, gift wrapping is a tricky tradition that I really want to keep but worry it is unnecessary from a sustainability perspective. In the UK, Defra estimates that enough paper is used each year to gift-wrap the island of Guernsey. They also estimate that each year, 83 sq km of wrapping paper ends up in UK rubbish bins and some authorities can’t recycle it. Approximately 50,000 trees are used to make the 8,250 tonnes of wrapping consumed at Christmas. That’s a lot of trees to use for one day of the year.

A couple of years ago I came across the Japanese tradition of Furoshiki, the reusable wrapping cloth. It is thought that this tradition could date as far back as the Nara period (AD 710) when pieces of fabric were used to transport clothes and gifts. The tradition has been partly lost in the Japanese culture but is coming back as the eco-friendly way to wrap presents. When I came across Furoshiki I thought it was a fabulous idea and could make a lovely business. Of course two lovely ladies beat me to it and started Wrag Wrap, a product design and manufacturing company based in the South Hams, Devon.

Wrag Wraps are made using fabric rather than paper and are therefore reusable time and time again. Each product has been designed to overcome the limitations of paper, wrapping a whole range of different shapes and sizes of gift – with no fuss or waste. No need for sellotape or safety pins, wrapping has never been easier. Each wrap comes in a range of sizes to cover almost any gift, with a choice of patterns. They launched a range of five Christmas designs with sweet reindeers and winter trees in festive reds and greens. Why not give it a go?

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