8 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Gift Wrap


Bevi staff

Overhead view of two hands wrapping a gift

Each year, Americans toss out more than 4 million tons of wrapping paper. Bring tidings and good cheer to the Earth this holiday season with these 8 eco-friendly alternatives to gift wrap.

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: ‘How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
— How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

In a world in which $2.6 billion dollars is spent annually on one-time use wrapping paper, the Grinch’s famous cry of disbelief reads like an eco-advocate’s exclamation of joy.

It’s no surprise that Americans produce 25% more waste in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years than in any other period of the year. Every holiday season, Americans throw out over 38,000 miles of ribbon, not to mention the 15 million Christmas trees that get tossed in the trash.

It’s the most wonderful — and wasteful — time of the year.

Although these stats may make you want to say “bah humbug,” using alternatives to wrapping paper is an easy way to reduce waste this holiday season. Check out these 8 eco-friendly ideas.

1. Make the packaging part of the gift.

Good things come without a package. There are all sorts of ways to use a gift as its own packaging; some ideas include: wrapping mittens and socks in a matching sweater, filling a pot or pan with kitchen supplies for someone who just got a new apartment, adding gardening supplies to a bucket or plant pot, stuffing a new purse with gift-cards, wrapping a gift box in a scarf or cozy blanket, making a mini care-package for a college student in a Tupperware container, etc. Let’s face it, you’re a gift giving pro, and don’t need any help from paper packaging to prove it!

Sources: DarlingDoodlesDesign, A Part of Life Blog, and Garden Therapy.

2. Repurpose old newspapers or brown paper bags.

Good for gifts of any size, and perfect for those who actually enjoy perfectly folding and taping each individual gift. While the newspaper will end up in the recycling bin along with the regular wrapping paper, at least it was repurposed. If you like the look of paper gift wrap, but would like to cut back on your tape usage, try doing some wrapping paper origami or using ribbon instead of tape (see #6 for an upcycled ribbon idea).
newspaper wrapped box

3. Reuse 6-pack beer boxes

You’ve been pregraming for Great Aunt Susie’s annual holiday party all day when you realize you forgot to wrap your Secret Santa gift. Have no fear: the 6-pack box you were about to throw out will do the trick! 6-pack boxes are perfect for multi-component (or multi-person gifts). Similar to good old-fashion stocking-stuffing, you can stuff each of the six compartments with gift items. Things like socks, rolled-up t-shirts, hair care or skin products, chocolate bars, candles, and of course, beer, fit perfectly in each slot. (Not a beer drinker? Check out these 6-pack boxes with built-in holiday cards made by Beer Greetings.)

beer greetings

Source: Beer Greetings

4. Emphasize the element of surprise with a recycled cereal box

Chances are you have about 3 cereal or snack boxes sitting in your recycling bin right now. There’s nothing better than adding multiple layers of surprise: using cereal and snack boxes of different sizes, try packaging up a small gift in a series of boxes — sort of a Russian nesting doll approach. This is a particularly good way to make opening gift cards a little more fun for kids.

5. Use old maps

In the golden age of smart devices, printed maps are nothing but dust collectors. Rather than keeping that map of Virginia in your glove compartment as an artifact of decades past, consider upcycling it and using it as a substitute for traditional paper gift wrap.
map wrapped box

6. Cut back on your ribbon usage by recycling old t-shirts

Put those old little league t-shirts to good use by transforming them into ribbon. While this upcycled gift wrap idea may require a little more work and planning on your end, the process is very simple. All you need is an old, colorful t-shirt and a pair of scissors. Check out this quick how-to video for instructions, and say goodbye to twirling ribbon.

t-shirt ribbon

Source: Instructables

7. For the hipster in your life, use a mason jar

I’m sure everyone has seen mason jars with cookie and cake mix in in local specialty shops. Mason jars are very versatile, and are the perfect vessel for any type of recipe, from a cocktail starter kit to a ‘spa-in-a-jar,’ to sewing kits and ‘go fishing’ jars. If you’re at a loss for gift grab ideas, thinking about what would fit into an empty mason jar is an easy way to jump start your brainstorming process.


Source: The Gunny Sack

8. Add some character to that unexciting Amazon box

So you have a box, but you don’t have any maps, newspapers, tape, old t-shirts…or any time. You’re not as short handed as you think! Instead of writing a card, use the box as your canvas. Write funny quotes or memories about the gift recipient; jot down a riddle; say something witty about why gift wrap is a thing of the past. When I was a kid, my mom let us decorate the outsides of the boxes we were shipping to family members out of state. Using stamps and paint, the once dreary brown color became a sea of colorful patterns and shapes.

the gift of bevi

We added a Bevi sticker to ours

In addition to these alternatives, there are also several reusable fabric gift wraps out there for purchase (check out LilyWrap or the variety of options available on Etsy).

Regardless of the approach you take, there’s no better way to show someone you care this holiday season than using sustainable gift wrap.

When we’re not promoting eco-friendly gift wrap, Bevi is on a mission to reduce plastic bottle waste, one pour of sparkling grapefruit water at a time.

Learn how you can reduce your plastic bottle waste here.


Bevi staff

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