Raffia, the mystery
December 5, 2007 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Why raffia considered "green" or "eco-friendly"?

We're going eco-friendly/green for the holoidays at my office and we need some way to attach a gift tag to items, more specifically some sort of string/thread/etc.
I've been looking all over and I keep hearing/seeing raffia suggested. My question is, WHY is that a good choice? It doesn't seem to be recyled, perhaps the process is sustainable? Or maybe due to free-trade? Or is it biodegradable? Is it just that we see it and relate it to eco-friendly/green products?
Any other suggestions on a way to tie these tags on would be appreciated as well. Thanks.
posted by missmle to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Use strands of your own hair (or that of someone with long hair). What could be more eco-friendly?
posted by The World Famous at 11:18 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hm...well, it is natural, which is a bonus compared to nylon or plastic ribbon. And, as such, it does biodegrade (as opposed to nylon or plastic). My only hesitation is how harvesting it occurs; I have no idea if it's typical third-world practice of forcing natives to work to cultivate, only to steal the product for fantastically low prices, or if it's closer to fair trade. Either way, it does win the "cool" and "Orientalism" award for string.
posted by General Malaise at 11:35 AM on December 5, 2007

If your office uses rubber bands, then use those to attach the tags, and then return them to the supply cupboard afterwards.
posted by happyturtle at 11:36 AM on December 5, 2007

Well raffia is made from a plant, so a) is biodegradable, and b) is from a renewable resource.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:37 AM on December 5, 2007

I think it's the paper thing stated above. Beware though, I've seen a lot of plastic raffia around. You could make your own out of strips of plastic grocery bags. USB cords would be awesome "ribbons" too. I'm sure that there is a lot of stuff around the office/house that you could reuse instead of throwing away, which seems a lot greener than buying a spool of recycled whatever.
posted by idiotfactory at 11:43 AM on December 5, 2007

Recycling something that your office already has would be a better solution. Rubber bands, as happyturtle suggests, would be good, especially if you have some that are colorful. Also, if your office uses a papershredder that makes long thin strips, braiding a bunch of the strips together would make a sturdy cord. If you have something who's good at braiding, it should take one lunch, though, of course, it depends on how many you have to do.
You can also send out a notice asking for donations of old knitted goods (e.g., scarves, sweaters). Takes no time to unravel the sweater, and the yarn you get is squiggly, which looks very nice when you tie it together in a bow. Or if people have old yarn or ribbon that they've saved from old presents, that's be good too. And the most eco friendly of all would be save the ribbons after people have used it and save it for next year.
Also, I've used newspapers/food containers for giftwrap/giftbox, and people have loved it. I individualize the selection and pick out the appropriate color page. Sports page for a sports fan, Sunday cartoons for someone who likes that particular cartoon, etc. If you know the person really well, and have some time to go through old papers, it's really great to get it very personal-- the color photo that depicts their favorite sports team winning a game, for example, or a box from their favorite food.
Or if you don't know what their fave is, or if it's not appropriate, it's fun to play the game of, which breakfast cereal would you be if you were a box of breakfast cereal? e.g., Quaker Oats, Frosted Flakes, etc. That makes the whole thing into a game that's fun, and extremely eco friendly. Just have people bring in food container cardboard boxes.
posted by peachy at 12:26 PM on December 5, 2007

You could also just write on the packaging. Save the raffia and the tag.

I would imagine that raffia is considered green because it actually uses up CO2 while it is growing and it doesn't use as much energy used to convert it from a raw good to a finished good.
posted by advicepig at 12:50 PM on December 5, 2007

Raffia comes from the fiber of a tropical palm. It will biodegrade, which is good, but it's greener not to buy anything new just to use once and throw away. Just twist up some strips of old paper bags if you really need a cord of some sort to attach things. It's flexible and looks cool and can be recycled into more paper bags.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:48 PM on December 5, 2007

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