3Rs for Ribbon: Rethink, Reuse, Refuse

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 atBalloons 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

5 thoughts on “3Rs for Ribbon: Rethink, Reuse, Refuse

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