Ideas for Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

December 7, 2017  •   3 min read


With the holidays around the corner, all of us are as busy as elves packing up and wrapping our gifts for our special someone’s. This year, we’re encouraging you to hold off on all the sparkly paper gift wrap, and take a moment to consider the effects those minuscule particles of plastic (glitter) have on the environment. The wrapping may look super pretty, but single-use paper gift wrap is wasteful and often, unnecessary. With annual trash from gift-wrap and bags totalling 4 million tons in the US alone, you can only imagine what the global output is.


But before we begin to sound too Grinch-like, we do have some beautiful alternatives for you to try out this year. Not only will these eco-friendly gift-wrapping ideas help save the earth, and your wallet, they’re also fun traditions you can incorporate into your family, for a long-lasting sustainable holiday practice. In the true spirit of Christmas, it’s inside what counts, isn’t it?



1. Fabric-Wrapping or Furoshiki:

A traditional Japanese wrapping practice that is becoming more well-known and used in North America. Furoshiki, or fabric wrapping was developed out of a sense of waste consciousness and caring for the environment. Fabric, instead of paper, is used to package things for transport or gift giving. The fabric can be any pattern or colour, but should be square (equal measures on all sides) and large enough to entirely cover the object. Add a festive touch to your wrap with some greenery foraged from nature – some sprigs of evergreens like spruce, cypress, cedar and firs, rosemary, or dusty miller are all beautiful options. The best part? Your recipient can use the cloth after, making your gift wrap serve a purpose greater than a single-use. For a step-by-step on how to wrap furoshiki, here is an easy-to-follow tutorial from Minted.

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2. Reusable Cloth Bags:

Crafted and designed for a lifetime of use, these beautiful gift bags from Ever Present Giving reduce the incredible waste single-use wrapping paper and bags generate, not to mention all the glitter and plastic embellishments that come with it. These earth-conscious bags can be used year-round and are made from a heavy-weight linen that will last through generations of gift-giving. With a wide range of sizes available, you can find a bag small enough for a jewellery box, or big enough to resemble a stuffed Santa sack!


3. Natural Kraft Paper:

If you must use paper, opt for one that is earth-friendly. With Kraft paper making a nostalgic comeback, this is a gift wrap you can use that will be appreciated with design-lovers and hipsters. Natural Kraft paper is bio-based, renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, compostable, and unbleached. You can wrap it as is, tie it with string and add a sprig of rosemary or dried orange slices in for a perfect gift. For smaller gifts, stick them in a natural kraft paper bag, for easier wrapping. You can also use vegetable dyes to stamp your own festive pattern on the plain paper. This could easily become a fun family tradition, one that your kids will enjoy.


4. Maps or Newspaper:

Another paper wrapping idea is to use old maps or newspaper as your gift wrap. If the gift you are giving is travel-related or for a person who loves traveling, using old maps is a great way to reuse paper that you already have, and adds a personal touch to the gift. If you use newspaper, make sure the object you are wrapping is either in a protective package or doesn’t pick up ink, as newspapers can transfer their ink onto clothes and light-coloured surfaces


5. Old Greeting Cards as Gift Tags:

A friend of mine told me something fantastic her mum has done since she can remember – rather than wasting money and resources on store-bought paper gift tags, she saves her Christmas cards every year, and uses them for gift tags the next year. With their pretty designs, often glittery and embellished fronts, and heavy card stock, holiday cards make for the perfect gift tags. Cut them out in the shape of the front design, or in rectangles and voila! Beautiful gift tags made from a paper source that would have otherwise been recycled or thrown out. If you’re not a fan of the design, use the plain part, as the paper stock will still make for a great tag that you can leave plain, or decorate yourself.  Greeting cards are a wonderful way to wish all the people you love, but when made from non-earth conscious materials, they can be very wasteful. Give your greeting cards another lease on life by turning them into pretty little tags.

You can also make your own gift tags from pretty paper you have lying around, paint your own card stock, or use stamps!


6. Washi Tape or Twine:

Instead of using regular scotch tape that is made from plastic and extremely wasteful and harmful to the environment, opt for washi tape! Japanese washi tape is made from biodegradable and natural sources such as the gampi tree, bamboo, hemp, rice or wheat, and it is reusable as well. You can also replace tape with twine, the way packages used to be tied up. Not only is twine a beautiful and nostalgic ode to the past, it’s also eco-friendly and reusable.

Try to avoid harmful and wasteful substances like glitter, plastic embellishments, confetti (plastic), stickers, cellophane and sparkles. These materials are not recyclable, and will ruin the entire batch of recycling, not to mention render your paper gift wrap non-recyclable. Your gifts can be so beautiful just by getting creative and using natural or reusable paper and tape!


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