I started making reusable gift bags several years ago for my family’s Christmas presents because I was tired of the waste generated from traditional wrapping paper. Who hasn’t filled an entire trash bag with paper and ribbon after your kids open their gifts on Christmas morning? One year as I was getting my bin of wrapping supplies, I just stopped in my tracks. I couldn’t bear to waste all that paper. I ran out to the fabric store, plopped the sewing machine on the ping pong table, and started making gift bags.
My wrapping went so much more quickly the next year, because I already had a stash of reusable bags. I just dropped in the present and tied the bag shut! What a time saver during one of the busiest times of the year. Next thing you know, I was sewing a bag every time I gave a gift — wedding showers, to welcome a new baby, birthdays, you name it.
I first started selling the reusable bags on Etsy. As demand grew, I launched my own site and found a local sewing contractor in Philadelphia to help with production.
I’m committed to sound environmental policies, which you can read about below. I strive to keep production local, use recycled materials as much as possible, and always keep an eye on what can be done better. I’m also proud to be a member of the Sustainable Business Network of Philadelphia.
VZWraps reusable gift bags are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wrapping paper. Traditional wrapping paper often can’t be recycled because it is dyed or laminated, contains non-paper additives, or is too thin to have good-quality fibers. Between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away 25% more trash than usual, about a million extra tons each week. Earth911 estimates that approximately 4.6 million lbs. of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year and about half of that ends up in landfills — 2.3 million lbs!
According to Vanderbilt University’s Holiday Greening Guide, half of the paper America consumes is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. VZWraps strives to reduce trash by providing a reusable alternative with our fabric gift bags. We also try to make environmentally-responsible choices in all aspects of the business. We look for the green alternative whenever we can, even if it’s not the cheapest or easiest.
The bag sizes are based on no-waste cutting, so that all the fabric is used leaving minimal scraps behind. I recently found a fabric supplier that dyes and prints the fabric right here in the US. All our ribbon is made in the USA. If ribbon made from recycled materials is available, we use it.
Fabric needs to be protected from the elements when it’s shipped. First we wrap your bags in tissue paper made from 100% recycled paper. Then it goes into our Eco-Enclose biodegradable, reusable (two sealing strips), USA-made envelopes. We ship large orders in a USPS Priority Mail box which is Cradle-to-Cradle certified or a reused shipping box. Because the boxes are not water resistant, your bags may be placed inside a plastic bag. That plastic bag is definitely being reused! We do not buy new ones. We save clean bags from fabric bolts, ribbon shipments, and everything else to reuse when we need them!
When we ship directly to consumers, we don’t use any packaging. We may use a paper clip to secure the ribbon on smaller bags to keep it from becoming tangled during shipping. The gift bags shipped by Amazon must be placed inside a clear bag. Can you imagine loose bags in Amazon’s ginormous warehouses? So again we turned to Eco-Enclose for bags made here in the US from 100% recycled content.