3 Rs For Ribbon: Rethink, Reuse, Refuse.

By Liesl Clark

Ribbon Found on Our Beaches (including the spool), Photo © Liesl Clark

Ribbon Found on Our Beaches (including the spool), Photo © Liesl Clark

You should never need to buy ribbon for wrapping gifts. Here’s why:

“If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.”

I tried to find the source for this fact but was unsuccessful, even though there are thousands of us on the web sharing it. Verifying it would take some simple mathematics, but more importantly the practical truth is that every time we walk our favorite shoreline, we find several feet of gift ribbon washed ashore. I’d like to submit a new version of the above quote and ask each family to do more:

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon that they found in the environment, the 38,000 miles of ribbon recovered from our wilds could tie a bow around the entire planet.

We have gobs of plastic ribbon in our environment. You just have to look for it — it’s all around you: Ribbons hang from our trees attached to balloons set free by helium, they’re tied to mailboxes of birthdays gone by, they’re tangled in the seaweed at your feet. Frankly, if you’re in need of ribbon, I’ll happily send you a sampling of what we’ve found on our roads and beaches. It looks as good as new. Each year I stockpile the ribbon and then Freecycle what I’ve saved for someone to reuse on their gifts. Plastic-coated ribbon doesn’t break down or look anything but new after hundreds of days at sea.

Ribbon Attached to Balloon Found on the Beach, Photo © Liesl Clark

Ribbon on the Beach, Photo © Liesl Clark

If you’re interested in learning more about the ribbons’ common partner-in-crime, the balloon, go visit our friends at Balloons Blow, Don’t Let Them Go, a dynamic duo doing what they can to explain the simple facts about the damage balloons do to the environment and our wildlife. Balloons do blow and so do the ribbons they’re attached to, entangling countless creatures in their plastic clutches.

So the next time you need some ribbon for prettying-up a package, take a walk and I suspect you’ll find some. Or use an alternative like pretty jute, bailing twine, fabric scraps or filament line you’ve collected from the beach. Help keep this stuff out of our waters. Refuse to buy more of it, and get creative with the ribbons you find to help teach others about the sad abundance of wrapping resources found choking our trees and wildlife.

Seal Pup in Distress, Labored Breathing, Point No Point, WA. Photo © Liesl Clark

Seal Pup in Distress, Labored Breathing, Point No Point, WA. Photo © Liesl Clark

Want come ideas for how to store or reuse the ribbon you’ve acquired through gifts or on the beach? Visit our Trash Backwards app to help you curb the habit of sending ribbon, and just about everything else, to the landfill:

Click Through to Find Ideas for Storing, Reducing, Reusing, and Refusing Ribbon at Trash Backwards

Click Through to Find Ideas for Storing, Reducing, Reusing, and Refusing Ribbon at Trash Backwards

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Categories: DIY, Reduce Your Use, Repurpose and Reuse, Think About It, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff

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  1. Feel-Good Post-Holiday Sustainable Practices « Trash Backwards - December 29, 2012

    […] Save all ribbon for reuse: Ribbons are made of plastic and survive in our oceans unscathed for years. We’re always surprised to find ribbon from birthday balloons wrapped up in seaweed (they are also known to entangle baby seals, sea otters and sea turtles) and once we break them free from the wrack line debris, the ribbon is as good as new. Save the ribbon you receive on gifts and give the gift of life to our marine creatures by not buying more of it. If you reuse what you have, you’ll never need to buy more ribbon again. […]

  2. Balloon-Free Party Decor | Rock Farmer - January 4, 2013

    […] to wildlife along the way, even if they do eventually break down into organic components, and the ribbon that’s tied to so many balloons isn’t remotely biodegradable – It looks just as fresh as ever after months of bobbing around our Puget […]

  3. DIY Reusable No Sew Bunting « Trash Backwards - January 16, 2013

    […] wildlife along the way, even if they do eventually break down into organic components, and the ribbon that’s tied to so many balloons isn’t remotely biodegradable – It looks just as fresh as ever after months of bobbing around our Puget […]

  4. 10 Things You Should Never Have to Buy « Trash Backwards - February 7, 2013

    […] Ribbons (look on every […]

  5. 50 Things You Never Need to Buy | Trash Backwards - February 22, 2013

    […] Simply look on every shoreline and ribbon can be found […]

  6. 100 Things You Never Need To Buy | Trash Backwards - May 15, 2013

    […] Simply look on every shoreline and ribbon can be found […]

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