Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!
4 Million Tons of Waste
Gift-giving is an important part of many cherished celebrations, including birthdays, baby showers, weddings and Christmas. However, all of those gifts generate a lot of garbage. It is estimated that in the United States alone, 4 million tons of waste is generated from gift wrap and shopping bags each and every year.
By following the 3 R's—reduce, reuse, and recycle—and using a little creativity, we can package our gifts in more eco-friendly ways and help reduce our impact on the environment.
How to Reduce
Here are a few ideas to help you reduce the amount of waste you generate this holiday season:
- Avoid purchasing foil and metallic wrapping paper and gift bags as these are generally not recyclable and will end up in the trash.
- Send electronic greeting cards instead of sending cards through the mail.
- Reduce the amount of wrapping materials you use by combining gifts into one package, instead of wrapping each gift individually.
- Package the gift into a container that is part of the gift itself. For instance, you could use a lunch box, toolbox, makeup bag, or kitchen pot to "wrap" a smaller gift and just add a ribbon or bow.
How to Reuse
Reusing wrapping supplies and repurposing household items to use as gift wrap can help to reduce waste and save you money on gift giving. Some easy ideas are:
- Save gift bags and tissue paper from gifts that you receive to reuse again next year.
- Buy or make your own cloth gift bags that can be reused over and over again.
- Collect decorative tins and boxes throughout the year and use them to package a variety of gifts.
- Decorate your gifts with small reusable items instead of purchasing bows or ribbon. For example, tie a Christmas ornament to a gift, tape a spatula or measuring spoons to a gift for someone that loves to bake, or attach a small stuffed animal or rattle to a baby gift.
How to Recycle
Before you go out and spend your money on rolls of wrapping paper or gift bags, look around your house for things that can be used to make fun and unique gift wrap. Possibilities include:
- Newspaper: Use the sports pages for a sports fan, comics for kids, the travel section for your friend who loves to travel or the food section for your aunt who loves to cook.
- Maps: Old maps or pages from an old atlas make great gift wrap for a variety of gifts.
- Magazines: With their glossy pages, magazines are a wonderful source for recycled gift wrap that can match the theme of the gift or the recipient's interests. For example, wrap a gift for a foodie in pages from a cooking magazine, a music CD in a page from Rolling Stone, or craft supplies in a scrapbooking magazine page.
- Paper bag: Paper grocery bags can be cut and used to wrap gifts of all sizes. Keep them plain and dress up the package with a plaid ribbon, or decorate it with stickers or stamps. This can be a fun project for kids!
As much as you try to be environmentally friendly when you're wrapping your gifts, inevitably you will receive gifts from others that are wrapped in wrapping paper. Wherever possible, try to save the gift wrap. You may be able to use it to wrap other gifts, or you can save the paper for kids' crafts or to make your own gift tags or cards.
Christmas cards can be recycled into gift tags, ornaments, decorations, or gift boxes.
Creative Green Gift Wrap Ideas
With a little imagination and creativity, it's easy to find gift wrapping supplies that are more environmentally friendly than the wrapping paper and foil gift wraps that just end up in the trash.
You likely already have items around your house that you can use to wrap gifts. Thrift stores, yard sales, and dollar stores can also be a great source of unique and inexpensive gift-wrapping supplies.
Alternatives to Gift Wrap
Here are some suggestions for making your gift wrap more eco-friendly this holiday season. Instead of using wrapping paper, try wrapping your gifts with any of the following:
- cloth napkins
- old calendars
- old books
- tins or canisters
- wallpaper remnants
- paper bags
- children's artwork
- bottles or glass jars
By making an effort to reduce the amount of wrapping paper you use this holiday season, you will not only be helping the planet, you'll also likely come up with some unique ideas that are sure to earn you points for creativity.
Gift Wrapping Poll
Will you try to be more environmentally friendly this holiday season?
© 2012 Kathy Sima