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10 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Tips

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Use these ideas for greener wrapped gifts.

I can’t help but cringe when I see the huge trash bag of crumpled gift wrap after gift-giving occasions. Buying paper and wrapping it around boxes, only to rip it off and throw it away — it’s an odd tradition if you think about it! Surely there are better ways to conceal the contents of your packages from the gift recipient.

Not every municipality recycles gift wrap, and some wrapping paper has metallic fibers or other content that can taint the paper pulp. Recycle when you can and use these quick tips to green your gifts:

  1. Buy rolls of white or natural-colored kraft paper made out of all or some recycled content.
  2. Stockpile old newspapers to use as gift wrap. Use the comics for kids and black-and-white print paper for sophisticated wrap jobs. Embellish with a red yarn bow for a bit of color.
  3. Upcycle scraps of fabric to sew reusable gift bags. They’re particularly good for oddly shaped items, and you could even cut up old sheets or clothing to make them.
  4. Make a bow out of a magazine page.
  5. Scout your yard or park for natural embellishments, such as pinecones, sprigs of ivy, or small pine boughs.
  6. Make bows or pom-poms from scraps of leftover yarn from a knitting project.
  7. Craft jingle bells from an egg carton. Bonus: they can double as ornaments.
  8. Learn to wrap without tape so that you’re using one less consumable. Even if you’re just using a few inches for each gift, all that tape adds up! This also makes it easier to recycle the paper, or better yet, to keep it and reuse it next time you need to wrap a gift.
  9. Don’t buy gift tags. Instead, invest in a gift tag stamp that you can use right on your wrap (yet another reason to use plain kraft paper!) or use the stamps to make your own tags by reusing scrap paper.
  10. After the holiday, find fun ways to reuse wrapping paper instead of (or before) recycling it. Shred or crumple it to use as packing material. Donate it to a school to use for collages and other art projects. Or use it to make a pretty wreath to hang on your door next year.

How are you responsibly wrapping your gifts this year?

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

  • tommy b. 11 months ago
  • Cindy W. 11 months ago
    With a swift go over with your iron, tissue paper looks new again.
  • Donna C. 11 months ago
    I usually use bags, but really like the no tape wrapping. Just might try that.
  • Laurie W. 2 years ago
    We have used the same gift bags over and over. I think some are old enogh to be carbon dated! We are careful with them and store them carefuflly and most are really pretty. There are many sizes and bags work better anyway for odd shaped gifts. I also save bows and other little gift ornaments to reuse. Haven't bought gift wrap in years. Have a bit on hand for when it is really needed. Also,raffia that has been here for ages makes a cute and earthy kiind of bow. I won't get anymore, but use what I have on hand.
  • Lori C. 2 years ago
    For years I have reused old Christmas cards for next years gift tags. Depending on the design, sometimes I can get 3 or 4 tags from one card. The family gets a kick out of seeing last years card they sent now adorning a present back to them.
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