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Eco-Friendly Ribbon and Gift Wrap Alternatives

Abby Slutsky is the primary gift wrapper in her family. Using git wrapping and ribbons that are environmentally-friendly is easy.

Raffia is one of many earth-friendly alternatives to ribbon. The natural color looks beautiful with any gift wrapping.

Raffia is one of many earth-friendly alternatives to ribbon. The natural color looks beautiful with any gift wrapping.

Eco-Friendly Ribbon and Gift Wrap

Gift wrapping a package helps make a present look special. Embellished gift wrap, which usually includes a ribbon or other decorations, makes the wrapped gift stand out. The advantages of using an eco-friendly ribbon are that it is better for the environment, is made of natural fibers, and is reusable and non-toxic.

Additionally, I happen to like trees. Why be wasteful and use wrapping paper that is not compostable? Typical wrapping paper may have sparkles and other decorations that make it difficult to reuse or recycle. Unfortunately, the more wasteful we are with paper, the more we squander our natural resources.

There are plenty of eco-friendly ways to wrap and decorate gifts. Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

There are plenty of eco-friendly ways to wrap and decorate gifts. Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

Qualities of Traditional Robbon and WrapQualities of Eco-Friendly Ribbon and Wrap

Wastes valuable natural resources

Reusable and recyclable

May be plastic coated or may have decorated embellishments.

Made of natural fibers and may be a natural color.

May contain wire or be dyed with non-organic dye,

Non-toxic, free of allergens.


Raffia is a natural fiber made from a type of palm tree grown in Madagascar. Raffia strands come from veins on the leaves. These strands can be dyed in different colors to create a variety of colors. Similar to ribbon, raffia strands can be tied together to create dramatic gift decorations that add interest to a wrapped package.

Cotton Ribbon

The material that ribbon is made out of determines whether it is eco-friendly. Cotton fibers are easy on the environment, and they are an excellent choice for those who want a green alternative that makes their gifts look beautiful. The cotton ribbon is available in many earth colors and widths, so you can find a spool that meets your gift wrapping needs.

Tissue Paper for Gift Wrap or Decorations

Instead of using a bow on your wrapped package, consider decorating it with a tissue paper flower. Tissue paper is eco-friendly, usually made from recycled material, and it comes in many colors and patterns.

You can also use tissue paper to gift wrap the entire package if you choose, so your ribbon and packaging can completely match. You can take a sheet of tissue paper for a small gift and fold it multiple times into an inch-thick strip. Carefully tie the thick strip of tissue paper into a bow.

Tissue paper is a very versatile, earth-friendly product for wrapping and decorating presents.

Hemp or Burlap Ribbon

Burlap is created from jute plant fibers. The plant is easy to grow in only six months. A jute plant does not require pesticides or fertilizer to thrive, and burlap is made out of the plant’s stem fibers. The material is recyclable and will decompose quickly in a compost pile—within a month.

Additionally, jute plants soak in carbon dioxide more easily than trees, making them better at turning out oxygen. Burlap is affordable, environmentally friendly, and robust. It is usually a rustic beige color, but you can also find it dyed.

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Use burlap for an environmentally-friendly wrap that can be reused. Photo by Skylar Kang from Pexels

Use burlap for an environmentally-friendly wrap that can be reused. Photo by Skylar Kang from Pexels

Questions About Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper

Here are some common questions about eco-friendly wrapping paper.

What Are the Most Environmentally Friendly Wrapping Papers?

Many eco-friendly wrapping alternatives are not traditional wrapping paper. Instead, they are alternatives to wrapping paper that may be useful for something else. Typically, wrapping paper is ripped off the gift and immediately thrown in the garbage. What are environmentally-friendly alternatives in your home? In fact, they may not only be more earth-friendly than traditional gift wrap, but they may also be more budget-friendly.

Can I Use Newspaper?

If you still read a hard copy of a newspaper, recyclable newsprint is a fantastic substitute for wrapping paper. It can be recycled multiple times, and wrapping a present in newsprint can target the recipient’s interest.

Consider using the sports page for an athletic gift or for a person who loves sports. Try wrapping a gift with the business page for a friend who loves investing. There is bound to be some part of the newspaper that will be appropriate for the recipient’s interests. If you want to add a little color to the wrap, use the comics to wrap a gift, and you will have a cheerful present with recyclable wrap.

How About Brown Packaging Wrap?

Plain brown packaging wrap is eco-friendly and is often cheaper than expensive gift wrap. Accent it with some raffia or burlap. The natural beige will complement the dark brown hue of the gift wrap.

Could I Also Use Burlap?

Do not feel that you must wrap gifts in paper. Use burlap to make a gift look special. The fabric will not crease or rip, so it is easy to recycle, store and use again.

Wrapping Paper Made From Recyclable Fibers

Of course, if you want more traditional-looking wrapping paper, it is possible to buy eco-friendly wrapping paper. One of my favorite eco-friendly wrapping paper is ECOARTTE by Glenda Chaves. One nice aspect about her environmentally-friendly gift wrapping sheets is that they are reversible. Thus, if you unwrap a gift carefully, you can reuse the paper on the other side, so it will look completely different when the new gift is wrapped.

The paper is entirely recyclable, durable, and comes in various beautiful patterns suitable for many occasions. When I use this paper, I find it does not rip quite as easily as thin wrapping paper, making it easy to reuse. On the downside, it is a little more expensive than some of the other eco-friendly alternatives.

Is Ribbon Biodegradable?

The short answer is that some ribbon is biodegradable and some are not. The material fibers used to make the ribbon determine if it is biodegradable. A ribbon that you can recycle is made without wire and from natural fibers. It is usually a natural color, but it can be eco-friendly if made with organic dye.

Wrap It up With Sustainable Alternatives

Remember, you do not have to limit yourself to ribbon and wrapping paper that is not environmentally friendly. It is essential to preserve the planet’s resources. Since it is easy to find environmentally-conscious gift wrap and ribbon, everyone can do their part to create a pretty gift without being wasteful!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Abby Slutsky

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