Most wrapping paper can't be recycled: 5 eco-friendly gift wrap ideas

As I was thinking about this season of gift giving, I wanted to find better ways to wrap presents -- after all, why am I using brand new wrapping paper that’s going to be torn up and tossed in 5 seconds?

I also thought, “Well, wrapping paper may be single-use, but at least it can be recycled like any other paper, right?” Wrong. It turns out that most wrapping paper is not recyclable.

According to this article from the HuffPost, most gift wrap is either lined with plastic, or uses plastic as part of the pattern -- glitter anyone? On top of that, the amount of ink present on gift wrap “makes it difficult to extract fibers from during recycling” and ultimately fewer fibers get recycled.

This gave me even more incentive to avoid wrapping paper and I’ve rounded up the best options for you to do the same.

Here are 5 ways to wrap your presents more sustainably this holiday season.

1. Newspaper

Before putting your newspaper in the recycling bin, consider using it to wrap your gifts this year. Use paper or cellulose-based packing tape OR… use this cool tape-free wrapping hack. You can jazz it up with a ribbon made of twine or leftover fabric, a snip of pine from your Christmas tree or other local plants, and a gift tag made out of scrap paper.

2. Grocery bags

Same concept as the newspaper. Because these are plain on the inside, this can be a fun project for the kids! Whip out your eco-friendly crayons and have a decorating party.

3. Takeout bags

If your favorite restaurant gives you paper takeout bags, those are perfect for a gift bag replacement. Like the newspaper, you can jazz it up with snips of local plants, and a gift tag. Attach with twine or a clothespin.

4. Glass jars

Save those jam jars and pickle jars for a second life as a gift container. Fill with cookies or use it to make a homemade candle. Wrap a piece of twine around it with a cute recycled paper label.

5. Bento bags

This is the easiest option for gift wrapping. You don’t need any other supplies and your gift can be wrapped in a matter of seconds.

Bento bags are super versatile and can be used to buy bulk grains, produce, bread, carrying your lunch, carrying cosmetics... the possibilities are really endless. They’re also great for wrapping gifts. Just put the gift inside and tie the ends together. Done!

If you’re keeping it you can use it again and again, or it can be part of the gift for the recipient.

We just launched these bento bags made from organic cotton -- and of course they ship to you without plastic.

That wraps up our 5 top options for more eco-friendly gift wrap! If you want to skip the wrap altogether, why not gift an experience instead like a trip, cooking class, museum pass, or spa day? You can even make a homemade “coupon” for the recipient to redeem with you for a hike, breakfast in bed, or a massage.

How are you giving this year?


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  • Thanks for sharing such awesome eco- friendly gift wrapping ideas . Well we can also try out some great customized gift wraps keeping in mind to use them on particular occasions and sharing our thoughts to our closed ones for not wasting and reusing them!

    ARC Design Print Studio on
  • Love this! I wrapped some gifts using the paper used in a package I received. I wrote little notes to make it festive.

    Heather on

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