April 01, 2015
Maui native Sara Smith clearly remembers her breaking point. It was just after her wedding in 2009, when along with a number of beautiful gifts she was left with moun-tains of wrapping and ribbons and a common dilemma: Reuse it or toss it? “It drove me crazy to think about this paper just being ripped up and thrown away,” she recalls. “That was my aha! moment. Why can’t wrapping paper be recycled?”
She began to do research and quickly saw the problem: Most conventional wrapping paper is laminated, which makes breaking it down to reuse the paper ﬁbers impossible. She also came across a truly alarming ﬁgure: Wrapping paper comprises around four million tons of our world’s waste annually. She discovered that recyclable wrapping paper was nearly nonexistent—and it didn’t take long for her to realize that she could do something about it.
In 2013 Smith launched Wrappily, a company dedicated to providing recyclable, compostable and chic wrapping alternatives to the traditional glossy roll. Having been raised with a father and grandfather in the printing business, Smith knew that newsprint would be the perfect medium for her products. “I set out to make something that would have an impact on our waste stream. Wrapping paper is a dead-end road for paper ﬁber, but a piece of newsprint can be recycled up to seven times.”
Today Wrappily is quickly becoming the game-changer that Smith had hoped. Her product is a stylish, two-sided wrapping in an array of designs created in partnership with local artists: richly colored blooming ﬂowers, simple polka dots and whimsical cartoon laulau and coconuts among others. Each sheet is printed on local printing presses using soy-based ink and distributed through local retailers to minimize its environmental impact. Smith’s dream is for Wrappily to be available across the country while remaining a local product. She’s well on her way: Wrappily is currently printed and distributed locally in both Hawai‘i and Washington, and Smith hopes to add California this year. “This past Christmas morning my son exclaimed, ‘Look, Mom! Santa uses Wrappily, too!’” Smith recalls. “It was a wondrous moment.”
Wrappily ever after: Maui's Sara Smith uses newsprint to create her wrapping paper, which ensures that the paper can be recycled. The vividly colored patterns on Wrappily's sheets come from local artists, thanks to a design contest sponsored by Smith's company.