As a child (and sometimes even as an adult) there’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of tearing the wrapping paper off a present to reveal what new toy lies within. While the gift you ultimately receive hopefully spends years with you, the wrapping paper see’s a much different fate. Mere seconds after being removed, it likely ends up in a garbage bag. And for most wrapping paper that’s the only option—the large majority of it is neither compostable nor recyclable.
So instead of contributing to the 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper that ends up in landfills each year, go for a more sustainable option. Here are a few eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas to get you started!
7 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas
1. Upcycled brown paper
You know that brown, or maybe beige, paper that often accompanies your online orders? It’s usually included to keep your items safe during transit. Well instead of throwing that away, use it to wrap gifts. Stack some books on top to help smooth out wrinkles or use it to wrap round or oblong gifts (that way wrinkles won’t look out of place). This paper can then be recycled or composted at the end of its life.
2. Recyclable gift wrapping
Maybe the brown paper you have is too wrinkled, or maybe you don’t have any because you have excellent self-control and don’t make many online purchases. Good news is you can also buy brand new recyclable paper. You can stick with classic brown, although there are some more festive options available now as well.
3. Fabric gift wrapping
Maybe consider just ditching the paper altogether? A Japanese method of fabric wrapping called Furoshiki, makes it easy to wrap any gift using just fabric. It uses knots to secure the wrapping instead of tape making it a perfect low-waste and completely reusable way to package your gifts. Learn the method here.
related: 10 Tips for a More Sustainable Holiday Season
4. Reusable bags
Bags—a classic. You put the item in, cover it with tissue paper, the recipient takes it out, and boom the bag is ready to be reused again. You can add in more unwrapping action by concealing bagged items in tissue paper. The nice thing about tissue paper is that it’s expected to have as many wrinkles as your Great Aunt Carol, so it’s easy to reuse multiple times without sacrificing aesthetics.
5. Decorate with twine
Instead of buying plastic bows or ribbon, try adding twine to your gifts. This material is easy to reuse and often compostable (although you should check the label carefully when purchasing to make sure it’s made of natural fibers, not synthetic fibers like polyester). You can spruce up your gift even more by adding dried citrus, pine leaves, or cinnamon sticks as “garnish.” Of course if you have leftover plastic bows or ribbons from last year reusing them is another great way to go.
6. Reusable tags
Stray away from plastic sticker tags. Instead make your own and attach with string. Or even try using a clothespin. Just write the recipient’s name on it in sharpie, and clip to the ribbon or string—very rustic chic, and of course perfectly reusable.
7. Learn how to wrap tape-free
Did you know you don’t actually need tape to wrap a gift? That’s right, you can wrap your presents with just a few strategic folds, no tape needed. Learn how here.
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