8 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Ideas For Your Holiday Gifts


Jeff Gapinski

2 Christmas presents wrapped in eco-friendly brown paper

When I was a little kid impatiently awaiting Santa’s arrival, I didn’t fully appreciate what my parents were doing by foregoing traditional wrapping paper for eco-friendly gift wrap.

It wasn’t until I got a little older and the holiday season grew to encompass more important things than gifts that I realized just how much wrapping paper we’d go through in one year, and what my parents were trying to do by not adding to that pile. Just thinking about the trash accumulated on that one morning in our household let alone our neighborhood, our city, and the rest of the world is an eye-popping amount of waste. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans alone throw out an additional 25 million tons of garbage during the holidays!

Now I know my parents were on to something with their recycled wrapping (not to mention the fact that it could then itself be recycled), and it’s a tradition I continue today. So before you buy another roll of glossy wrapping paper, check out these eight ideas for sustainable gift wrap this holiday season. 

1. Reuse newspapers and cardboard boxes

Photo by AbsolutVision

Physical newspapers aren’t as commonly delivered as they used to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use other recyclable paper or packaging to disguise your gifts. Magazines, cardboard boxes, and other delivery items can all be repurposed for your wrapping and decorating needs. 

2. Use reusable fabric

Photo via wrappr.com

Wrappr’s motto is “give art, not waste.” Inspired by a trip to Japan and a deluge of gifts in celebration of their new baby, the co-founders of Wrappr now make reusable furoshiki wraps for gifts. They can be used to wrap a wine bottle, jewelry, or any small gift box. Be careful, though, because the wrapping has the potential to be more elegant than what it’s covering!

3. Upcycle old t-shirts 

Photo by Darling Arias

Have a beloved t-shirt that doesn’t fit anymore? Turn it into reusable gift wrap! If you’re handy with a sewing machine, combine a few squares of fabric to make your own totally unique wrapping. Then make sure the recipient knows to pay it forward next year.

4. Raid your glove compartment for maps

Photo by Ruthie

When’s the last time you used a physical map to get from point A to point B? Check your glove box or your bookshelf for old maps to wrap up your gifts with. This is perfect for the person on your list with wanderlust.

5. Reuse paper bags from the grocery store

Photo by Maria Lin Kim

You’re already doing the right thing by choosing paper over plastic. Now upcycle those bags into eco-friendly gift wrap this holiday season. Whether you use the bags in their original shape with some recyclable paper on top or break them down into strips of paper for wrapping, this is another great option that can be recycled after the gift is unwrapped. If you’re feeling really festive, turn the bags inside out and decorate the blank side with a holiday motif.

6. Go digital

Photo by Brett Jordan

The best way to use eco-friendly gift wrap is not to use any gift wrap at all. Rather than a material gift or gift card, see if your favorite retailers offer digital delivery or experiences with a low environmental impact. Double down by gifting donations to sustainability-focused groups and then emailing your recipients the green news!

7. Find your flourishes in nature

Photo by Irina Iriser

Instead of adding more waste like ribbons and bows to your wrapping, take a walk outside and collect some seasonally-appropriate flourishes. Pinecones, small tree branches, cotton buds, and flowers all make for festive toppers. 

Want to jingle all the way with your holiday gift topper? Cut a few sprigs off your tree or stop by a Christmas tree sale and collect some of the extra branches that dot the lot. 

8. Wrap your presents using gummed paper tape

Of course, you can’t wrap most gifts without using tape! If you want to be even more environmentally friendly this holiday season, try using gummed paper tape for all your gift-wrapping needs.

The company Life Without Plastic offers water-activated kraft tape that is 100% recyclable and compostable. Each roll can also withstand harsh weather conditions such as high heat, humidity, and frigid temperatures.

Read more about their commitment to the environment here.

Help the planet with these sustainable gift wrapping ideas

We hope these ideas help make your holiday a little more sustainable, and we wish everyone a very happy holiday season no matter how you celebrate!

If you’re last-minute shoppers like us and need a few sustainable gift ideas to go along with the eco-friendly gift wrap, look no further than our sustainable gift guide.

What are you going to use to wrap your gifts this year? We’d love to see photos of your sustainable gift wrap, holiday decorations, and gifts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn


Jeff Gapinski

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