In the United States each year, we use around 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper. Most of that gift wrap is difficult to recycle because it has glossy coatings, glitter, foils, or other textures that wreak havoc on machinery needed to break it back down into reusable fibers.
Even more troubling is the fact that when non-recyclable materials are included in a batch of otherwise recyclable items, the entire load often ends up in the landfill.
That’s not to mention the emissions resulting from the manufacturing of wrapping paper in the first place. Roughly 3.5 pounds of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere for each (1) pound of paper made. What’s worse, almost all conventional roll wrapping paper is printed overseas, so taking transportation emissions into account, its true environmental cost is actually even higher than that. Ouch.
Ready to go “green” with your gift wrap?
First (obviously) avoid using the worst stuff: plastic, glitter, very shiny papers, anything metallic or textured. Next, check out some of our favorite low-waste and eco-conscious alternatives to using traditional wrapping paper.
1. Use what you already have.
Finding new uses for things you might already have around the house is ideal, because it saves you money and doesn’t create any additional waste. Look around... what do you already have that you can easily repurpose as thoughtful gift wrap?
Saved tissue and ribbons from previous gifts are an easy win, especially since most of them are not recyclable. Here are gifts wrapped in fabric and in reused tissue paper and ribbons:
Cut-up old clothes or fabrics can be made into colorful ribbons:
Newspaper also makes great gift wrap. We love the New York Times (or any newspaper) for its colorful ads and interesting headlines. The kid’s puzzle section or crossword section is great for the gamer on your list, and the book reviews look great wrapped around all the books you’re gifting this year.
What about the stacks of old holiday cards you’ve received in years past? Those can be repurposed as festive gift tags!
Don't forget other household items that can do double duty as both containers and functional gifts, like cookie tins, glass jars, bowls, baskets, cups, mugs, flower pots, cloth bags, socks... use your imagination!
2. Go natural.
Instead of shiny plastic bows and crusty glitter glam, move toward incorporating natural materials as adornments on your gifts. Try using biodegradable decorations like fallen leaves, sprigs from trees, flowers, herbs to decorate your gifts. (It’s pretty Pinterest-y.) Strips of old yarn, natural jute or hemp work great to seal up ends - you don’t even need tape!
3. Try reusable fabric gift wrap.
Furoshiki is a technique that uses fabric instead of paper to wrap gifts. Over a thousand years ago, it was used by Japanese noble families and feudal lords to wrap their clothes at public baths. Today, Furoshiki is used to wrap bento boxes, carry goods, and as decoration. Fabric wrapping can be done with any cloth, including silk, cotton, and nylon. (However, you should not use it to wrap food.)
To wrap a gift with fabric:
Place your gift in one corner of the wrapping.
Fold the corner onto your gift.
Fold again, then fold the opposite corner into the middle.
Fold the remaining two corners together into a knot.
The size of the fabric should be twice the length of the longest side of the gift. For example, if your gift is 2 hands widths on its longest side, you need a fabric wrap that is about 4 hand widths.
And of course, there’s always the tried-and-true unbleached kraft paper option, which is recyclable (without tape) and can often be re-used multiple times:
5. Let us eco-wrap your order!
Yup! As far as we can tell, we’re the only environmentally-friendly store offering zero-waste gift wrapping both online and in the shop, which makes us either awesome or crazy (…or both? Lol).
But it’s true. We have an assortment of recycled, upcycled, reused, repurposed, natural, biodegradable, and/or recyclable gift wrapping supplies and adornments, and we can wrap any item in your order – or your entire order! Your choice. Our pleasure. You save time & money, and we’re not buying anything new or creating any waste, so we all win!
To add our eco gift wrapping service to any item in your order, click the checkbox next to the green gift icon before you add it to your cart.
Thank you, and happy gifting!
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