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.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. The three Rs roll off our tongues as a set. But do we walk the walk for all that talk?

When it comes to bottled water, recycling gets a lot of attention. And while recycling every bottle we open will reduce the amount of plastic in landfills, that’s only part of the solution. Unfortunately, we’re opening more and more bottles every year and the impact on the environment of creating, transporting, and even recycling all those bottles continues to intensify.

Image Source: http://www.trueactivist.com/

Impact before recycling: the case for reduce

The water bottle you hold in your hands today made its mark long before crossing paths with you. Its creation alone required two precious and limited resources: water and oil.

That you need water to create bottled water is no secret. But what might surprise you is that an estimated 3 liters of water flow into the making of each 1 liter water bottle. Groundwater plays an important role in oil drilling and oil is a key component of plastic. Water also takes part in manufacturing the bottle’s paper labels. Ultimately, there’s more water in your water bottle than what passes through your lips.

And then there’s the oil. To satisfy the annual demand for bottled water, in the U.S. alone, requires 17 million barrels of oil, or enough to power a million cars for a year. Then the bottles must be transported. Often, the water bottle you grab on your travels has traveled thousands of miles to get to you, a journey that requires more oil than it takes to make the bottle in the first place.

Impact during recycling: the case for reuse

Whether you recycle it or not, that bottle will continue to make its mark after you and it part ways.

Tossing it in the trash will send it off to a landfill, with almost 70% of all other water bottles in the U.S. The bottle will outlast all of us in that landfill, taking more than 1,000 years to biodegrade.

Tossing it in the recycle bin will give it a chance at a new life. But even that comes with a cost. A water bottle’s afterlife often takes it to China where it is transformed into clothes, toys, carpets or auto parts and then shipped back. Although new plants opening in the U.S. have reduced the cost of a recycled bottle’s round-trip journey, the impact is still devastating.

The overall impact

While recycling does lessen the environmental impact of the plastic water bottle, unfortunately it doesn’t go far enough. To be recycled, the bottle has to be made and then remade, wasting precious natural resources (and still releasing unnecessary chemicals into the world).

Which brings us back to the three Rs. Recycle, of course. But whenever possible, bring along your own reusable water bottle or let a plastic one hang around a bit longer so that you are reducing and reusing as well!

Bevi at SVB

Learn more about the afterlife of a plastic water bottle.