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Proper Green: Give A Little Love to Your Gift Wrap

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Don’t know what to do with the pile of gift wrap after a celebration (say, Valentine’s Day)? Here are some tips on when to recycle and when to reuse.

Dear Proper Green,

Is gift wrapping paper recyclable?

-Kathy and Ray Y.



Dear Kathy and Ray,

Thanks for the timely question! With Valentine's Day around the corner you may find yourself with a pile of gift wrap that needs dealing with.

It's wrapping PAPER, so you'd think that you'd be able to just toss it in with your other paper recycling, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Here are some steps to figuring out what to do with your stash.

What to do with used gift wrap?



  • Check with your local hauler or municipality on its recyclability. This should always be Step 1, when you are unsure what can go in your curbside recycling bin. Most haulers will note that they do not accept wrapping paper that has foil, plastic coating, tape, decorations, or embellishment.
  • If your gift wrap passes the test with your hauler and municipality, drop it in your recycling bin! Congratulations, job well done!
  • If it can't be recycled, you've still got options — rewrap or upcycle! You could try being extra careful when unwrapping your gifts, and save the paper with your other wrapping supplies so you could use it when it's time gift again. If you never want to give the cute heart-adorned wrapping paper away, upcycle your the gift wrap into something new like a cool wreath.

You'll have a lot less to worry about after you receive a gift if you know the wrapping paper started off on a green foot. Here are two tips to keep your gift giving green:

  • Buy recycled or recyclable gift wrap. Keep in mind what IS acceptable in your community, and make sure you purchase gift wrap that you can kick to your curb (in your recycling bin, of course). Sadly, this may mean you'll need to reconsider the glitter!
  • Save money — skip the paper wrap! Use what you've got around the house to keep your gift a surprise. Grab the comic section of an old newspaper, or cut up an old sheet or shirt with a crazy, fun pattern for a fabric wrapping.


What's the most creative alternative eco-friendly gift wrap solution you've come up with?

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Proper Green
Proper Green
Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and th... more
  • Ann M. 1 year ago
    You can even reuse tissue paper without looking tacky. Lightly iron the good pieces on a warm setting and they will look almost like new!
  • joanna l. 1 year ago
    Please skip the glitter! Awful stuff!
  • NAncy Lee B. 3 years ago
    Some of the wrap that is too giitzy to recyce I cut and use segments for crafting and fold other parts into long strips which I snip into boes r packing materials instead of buying even more paper for that purpose
  • Becky P. 6 years ago
    Nice plans
  • Sheri H. 6 years ago
    We had 3 kids get married in the past 2 years. I have an enormous supply of tissue paper, boxes, ribbons that I added to my stash of gift wrap supplies. We always re-use boxes, bags & tissue paper.

    I cut the front of Christmas cards we received and use them as decorative gift tags on my gifts.
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