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Four of the nine gift wrapping alternatives are presented. Each item only required items from around the house such as a old t-shirt, a potato chip bag, a newspaper page and chopsticks.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

In the midst of the winter holiday season, there are two sides to the gift-giving dilemma. One is finding those perfect, unique gifts for family and friends. The other is trying to enter the New Year with green resolutions, especially through “sustainable” holiday shopping and gift-wrapping. 

A newfound goal to reduce one’s carbon-footprint may be shadowed by the 30 percent increase of waste over the festive period according to Carbon Footprint Ltd. In addition, approximately 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year, and about one half is sent to landfills as estimated by Earth911. 

Further, the recycling database said textured, metallic, glossy or glittery wrapping paper isn’t recyclable, nor are decorative accessories like most ribbons, blows, and cards with glitter. Commodities such as tape and other plastic adhesives, wraps, or stuffings only enhance the issue as they also non-recyclable. 

To minimize waste during the holidays, this compilation of nine cost-effective gift-wrapping ideas embodys “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. However, this list represents a few of the many approaches to upcycling. One could consider repurposing everyday items and past holiday gifts, including the unwanted ones, for creative gift containers and wrapping material in the future.


1. Raid the Kitchen: Mason Jar, tissue paper, tree sprigs, and twine

Leftover mason jars found in the kitchen can serve as packaging for holiday food gifts and other small presents. Reusing tissue paper from previous celebrations and birthdays, it was secured with twine and accented with a tree sprig. 


2. Clean the Closet: Old tank top and wooden chopsticks

Inspired by Furoshiki, an ancient Japanese practice, any present could be wrapped with fabric, scarves, towels or cloth. Whether it is decorative or plain, an old tank top was able to get the job done. The wrap can stand alone or be adorned in ribbons, tags, pins and wooden, biodegradable chopsticks. 


3.Prepare a Lunch: Brown paper bag, satsuma leaf, tree sprigs, and twine

Recycled brown paper bags can do more than storing a sack lunch. There are many ways to embellish the bag including cutting the edges and coloring the tips for a rustic-style. Attaching a satsuma leaf and tree sprig, the bag was tied with twine to form a bow. 


4. Read the Newspaper: Newspaper and strips of an old t-shirt

Saving local newspapers from a grocery store or the daily mail is an easy way to “spread the news” to family and friends in a gift-wrapping alternative. A strip of an old t-shirt was fashioned around the box to serve as a reusable ribbon.


5. Grab a Snack: Potato chip bag, headbands and a button

Before throwing a potato chip bag in the trash, consider using it to wrap a small box. This shiny, minimalist look can hold jewelry, gift cards and more. After washing the bag and cutting it at the seam, it can be used as wrapping paper and decorated with headbands, buttons and a small leaf.


6. Dig Out Old Keepsakes: Atlas page, pine tree leaf, and twine

Cleaning out boxes of relics, especially a full size map or atlas, could now be more worthwhile. These vintage, colorful pages could be used as unique wrapping paper along with twine and tree springs, for anyone that loves the outdoors or adventuring.


7. Go on a Coffee Run: Starbucks shopping bag, vintage gift topper, and twine

A Starbucks coffee stop may result in some impulse purchases of snacks or a new cup. Their 100 percent recyclable brown paper bag was cut at the handles for wrapping. Twine and a vintage gift topper is a way to avoid using tape or glue. These items can be reused for a day of shopping or a gift decoration. 


8. Venture to the Store or Great Outdoors: Recycled jewelry box and popcorn

Before a delicate or small present is wrapped, it can be placed in a reusable box and stuffed with biodegradable items such as popcorn, pinecones, shelled peanuts, grasses, and leaves instead of plastic or Styrofoam, which cannot be composted.


9. Send a Package: Brown Kraft Paper, cinnamon sticks, pine tree leaf with berries, twine 

Some gifts may need to travel long distances before they land on their recipients’ doorstep. Kraft paper is ideal for postal packages needing protecting from the elements and transportation process. This 100 percent recycled, non-bleached wrapping paper was paired with cinnamon sticks, tree sprigs with berries attached, and twine for a festive treat. 

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