(Source: fizkes/Shutterstock.com)

A Guide to Low-Waste Wrapping

by | November 23, 2019

With fall at the tail end and winter in full swing already for some of us, seasonal giving has been on the brain!

There’s nothing quite like someone’s face lighting up after receiving the perfect gift — especially if it’s one you choreographed and thoughtfully packaged for them yourself.

One thing that has not always been so loved is the trash that is created when it comes to gift-giving!

Stanford University has discovered that Americans alone throw away 25% more trash during the holiday season — that is between Thanksgiving and the New Year’s celebrations.

This extra waste amounts to 25 million tonnes of garbage in total, or around one million extra tonnes per week!

low-waste wrapping
Low-waste wrapping is a good idea for reducing the impact on the planet (Source: dreamerve/Shutterstock.com)

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Low-Waste Wrapping

Today we are here to share how you can reduce your waste during these fun and festive events — and for pretty much any event that involves gift-giving!

Not only is this great for the environment but its also a really thoughtful and totally different way to present your gifts to that special someone.

There are countless options available, from 100 percent zero waste, to low-waste wrapping alternatives that are reusable. Plus, there are even smart ways to reuse gift wrap that you have received from someone else!

Zero-Waste & Eco-Friendly Wrapping Options

  • Wrapping:
    • Old paper grocery bags
    • Recycled paper
    • Newspaper
    • Scrap fabric
    • An old button down shirt
    • A bag that’s part of the gift
    • Vintage scarves
    • Pretty dish cloth
    • Shop bags
    • Butcher paper
  • Tying:
    • Twine
    • Hemp
    • Leather ord
    • Strips of scrap fabric
    • Metal wire
  • Embellishments:
    • Real plants
    • Vintage jewelry
    • Palo Santo sticks
    • A card written on recycled paper or cardboard
    • Broaches
    • Bracelets
    • Dried oranges
    • Cinnamon sticks
    • Fresh herbs
    • Bolo ties
    • Old Christmas cards
    • Burlap bits
    • Wooden spoons or utensils
    • Tree trimmings
low waste gift wrap
Recycled wrapping options are an eco-friendly solution (Photo: evso/Shutterstock.com)

Wrapping Alternatives

  • Baskets
  • Wallpaper
  • Tins, cans & jars
  • Pillow cases
  • Maps
  • Towels & blankets
  • Feed sacks
  • Old calendar pages

Gifts That Don’t Need Wrapping!

  • Certificates
  • Trips/outings
  • Handmade gifts
  • Tickets
  • Memberships
  • Subscriptions
  • Financial accounts
  • Bus passes

These lists have been created with the help of : Trash is for Tossers, Going Zero Waste, & the Prairie Homestead.

recycled wrapping gift giving
Choose low-waste wrapping for all of your gift-giving events (Photo: oatawa/Shutterstock.com)

Reusable Wrapping

The following great reusable items can be embraced by the whole family, not only for the holidays but for any event for which you would traditionally give a gift.

How to Reuse Gift Wrap

  • Make tiny envelopes (for things like gift cards and memberships)
  • Make paper bunting and party signage
  • Shred into confetti (great for New Years!)
  • Use to line a box containing something fragile
  • Construct and hang decorative streamers
  • Craft some paper shapes like star medallions
  • Line plain bookshelves or drawers (great way to hold on to a memorable gift and day)
  • Use for tray liners for special dishes and food
  • Create bows to stock up for next year
  • Frame it
  • Build a paper cone Christmas tree
  • Wrap books for extra flare and protection
  • Make hanging pompoms
  • Place mats
  • Origami
  • Use to fold into CD cases for your holiday pictures

Sometimes we can’t help but receive gift wrap, and some of us might be trying to use up our existing rolls before we commit to not using it again. Head on over to BuzzFeed.com to see more ideas on how to re-purpose gift wrap!


You can take a multitude of small steps over the holidays to reduce your waste — gift wrap is only the beginning!

Why not give physical Christmas cards a miss this year, and send greetings online to family and friends? You also might try buying a living Christmas tree and replanting it when spring time rolls around — what a great tradition to bring into the home!

What are some things you are doing this year over the holidays to reduce waste? Let us know in the comments below!

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