Zero Waste Gift Wrapping Ideas for Beautiful and Sustainably Presented Gifts

Recently, I talked about eco-friendly gift ideas, but in my research I came across a lot about gift wrapping, enough so that I’ve put together a whole post about ways you can still give beautiful presents to friends and family while still being kind to the planet, because let’s be real though, the eco-footprint of a gift doesn’t stop at the gifted item. It also includes the wrapping it comes in and the card that goes with so keep in mind a few of these ideas for gifting eco-friendly items!

I recently came across this fact from Wrappily, “over the holidays, about 227,000 miles worth of wrapping paper get thrown away—enough to circle the world 9 times!”

Just let that sink in—this same site states that the United States produces millions of tons, we’re talking over four millions tons, of waste from wrapping paper alone every year. These are staggering numbers!

What’s worse, most gift wrapping can’t be recycled because of the materials they’re made with. Those beautiful, shiny wrapping papers, those carefully tied ribbons, that nearly invisible tape, is all made with a mix of plastics, paper and who-knows-what else that can’t be separated to be recycled properly. Where does it end up? In the landfill.

Our holidays are supposed to be a time of giving and showing others that we care, so let’s carry this forward to how we treat our planet and make a point of opting for sustainable gift wrapping.

There are a few ways we can do this — and still have beautifully presented presents (sorry, I got very excited about getting to say presents twice in a row there!).

1. Reuse What You Have

Am I the only one that collects gift bags, bows, ribbon, and tissue paper from Christmas’s past? I doubt it! Before going out to get new eco-friendly giftwrapping take a look at what you already have. Odds are something in the giftbag filled with gift bags will be perfect for this holiday season.

Really want to impress with your zero-waste gifting abilities. Take a trip to your paper recycling pile.

Here you’ll probably find old newspapers, catalogues or anything that can be easily folded around gifts—not only is this saving you money, it’s giving what would otherwise be waste a second life and it’s recyclable.

Glamour Mag even takes this idea a step further (and my crafting heart loves it!), remove and unfold the paper shopping bags (and why not gift bags too?) so you can use them as wrapping paper. There’s something about actually wrapping up a gift instead of using a gift bag that just makes gifting it that much more fulfilling (…or is that just me?).

2. Reusables

Look for items that can be reused after the gift is opened. This can be things like:

  • Cloth gift bags

  • Fabric swatches

  • Glass containers (for all the Christmas baking you’ve been doing—it’s also a great gift to give!)

It’s even better if you can find reusables that are made with sustainable materials like linen, cotton, or hemp.

3. Gift Wrapping Made from Recycled Materials

This can include cards, wrapping paper, gift tags, ribbons, craft paper, and more. Often times you can find these items made with recycled materials and paper, helping to extend the useful life of the raw materials.

Craft paper is one of the few recyclable options for wrapping paper. But, if you’re not keen on the look of plain craft paper, it offers a perfect chance to get creative! Use stamps, paint, markers and make your own pattern, write well wishes, tell a story, whatever makes you and the gift recipients happy!

4. Finding Eco-friendly Tape

When it comes to tapping together your gifts, the tape you use also has an impact. There are biodegradable tape options like this from &Keep and paper tape that you can use to keep your gifts together well, and of course things like ribbons.

5. Compostable Materials

To give your gifts an extra festive and fun look, without things like ribbon or bows that will add to our waste, look for compostable materials to take your gift to the nest level. A few things could include:

  • Hemp cord

  • Seed Paper

  • Add decorative elements like flowers, sticks, dried fruit for a whimsical and extra decorative feel to your gifts.

  • Cloth stirps for bows

  • Cotton ribbon

Just because your festivities will involve zero-waste gift wrapping doesn’t mean your gift won’t look beautiful and fun to give and receive.

Which zero-waste option will you be trying this Christmas?