Elizabeth Mueller from Swathe has been a long time friend of Green Life Trading Co. She’s been doing big things with her small business based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to help reduce needless waste around the ritual of gift giving. We reached out to her to help shed some light on how to ace holiday gift giving the low waste way.
How did Swathe get started?
I’ve always been someone who tries to find creative (and even sometimes a little strange) ways to reuse, upcycle, recycle… anything to save things from the trash bin – but becoming a foster parent & suddenly having a much larger family really opened my eyes to just how much waste we create. After our first Christmas with kids and making some pretty strange-looking fabric gift wrap from old cut up sheets – a (Swathe) seed was planted. These first attempts were not nearly as beautiful & form-fitting as Swathes now, but it worked! Our present opening was as special as the presents inside those sheets. And a tradition was born. To me, the fabric of a family is tradition. Even as our family changed, part of our celebratory norms from then on included saving and folding up our fabric wrapping at the end of our opening spree instead of filling up garbage bags with waste.
My love of sewing, staying up way too late, and sustainable living created the perfect recipe to start a reusable fabric gift wrap company. Swathe is a family business & being truly inspired by our unique family, we wanted to share our wrapping tradition with others and help families give their gifts IN a gift to a healthier planet with Swathe.
What is something about your business that most people would be surprised to find out?
Swathes are all HANDMADE with love in every stitch here in Wisconsin. Even though keeping up with demand can be a bit of a challenge for our small sewing team at times, we wanted to keep production small & local to further our zero-waste mission.
What kind of fabric are your reusable gift wraps made out of and why?
We are so proud to explain that Swathes are not only reusable, but they are also made from upcycled & recycled materials. It was incredibly important to us that the production of Swathes diverts valuable resources from ending up in the landfill – rather than creating more waste to make. We use upcycled and excess fabric from an outstanding partnership with another local Milwaukee company and children’s clothing retailer, Florence Eiseman – who shares our focus on sustainability to create less production waste. We source RENEWRibbon, which is made of REPREVE fibers created from recycled plastic bottles. We like to say that Swathes are made of (would be) waste, so you can make less waste!
What is your favorite gift wrap pattern this season?
I love literally all holiday patterns so it’s too hard for me to pick just one – instead I want to share my fav new concept for holiday wrapping we have this year… the holiday BIG bundle! We just introduced this idea, so you can be totally ready for all your holiday wrapping needs. Our Holiday BIG Bundle includes 2 large, 3 medium, and 3 small Swathes in mix & match festive patterns at a big discount. Not only will you save money, but you'll also save trees with our reusable fabric gift wrap. 'Tis the season to be sustainable! And we’ll also make sure to include a few versatile patterns and different bow ribbon colors so you’ll be able to use some of this bundle all year long for your birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, & so many more celebrations.
What is the wackiest thing that you have wrapped with your reusable gift wrap?
Unlike wrapping with paper which can easily tear & break (so frustrating!), Swathes are incredibly durable and form-fitting to literally any gift – large or small, soft or hard, sharp corners or rounded. I’ve even wrapped a skateboard I got for my son from a secondhand store so naturally I did not have a box, which you could never do with paper.
What is a memorable holiday gift that you have received?
I love sparkling water but I hate making so much waste with the cans (even if they can be recycled), so I was thrilled to receive a Drinkmate sparkling water maker from my family last year – I love making fun new drinks to try, saving so much money by buying less canned water, and they even have a CO2 Exchange Program so your bubbles are even zero-waste!
What is your advice to someone who has never tried using reusable gift wrap before?
Just get started! The best way to learn is to try, and we promise Swathes are so easy to use. Even those who consider themselves ‘not great wrappers’ can wrap with Swathe in a flash. In four easy steps, with NO extra supplies needed – so no scissors, tape, bows – you’ll have a beautifully wrapped gift in a gift to a healthier planet.
And remember the more you do something the better you get at it. The first time you wrapped a gift in paper it probably didn’t look perfect but over time you were able to do a much better job. But the best part of wrapping with a Swathe, when you mess up you just unfold and try again rather than having to start over with new paper & tape, making even more waste. A mess with no mess is my kind of mess!
What are you most excited about this holiday season?
My favorite gift (which unfortunately can’t be wrapped with a Swathe haha) is TIME! I’m so excited to spend the holidays with family & friends and snuggling my three little old rescue pups. I also love wrapping, giving, and receiving gifts wrapped with so much love in Swathes that have been used more times than I can count over many years. Whether I am giving them as part of the gift or folding Swathes to use again for our family next year, cleaning up always makes me smile when I don’t have any garbage to take out (in the cold) when we are done!
Where can people find your products?
With so many fun, vibrant patterns & three sizes, we are here to meet all your wrapping needs in our online store at www.swathegifts.com. And we want to give a gift to our Green Life Trading Co. family so take 15% off your entire order with code GREENLIFE at check out or use this link.
**Please note our order deadline for Christmas shipping is this FRIDAY, December 15th so make sure to order quickly if you want to wrap your holiday gifts IN a gift to a healthier planet this year. But don’t worry the discount code will still work after the shipping deadline & we always have some great sales in January too so it’s never too late to join our sustainable wrapping tradition!