Recycled paper gift wraps

It’s the holidays and you’re looking at all the gifts you still need to wrap and wondering just how to do it without creating a mountain of non-recyclable trash. There’s got to be a better way!

If you want “traditional” looking giftwrap, choose wrap made from recycled materials that is also recyclable. Make sure to check with your local recycling center first, since not all will accept giftwrap. Even wrap labeled as recyclable may not be at your facility.

Recycled giftwrap isn’t the only green option out there. We’ve picked some of our favorite eco-friendly giftwrap alternatives to share. Some are greener than others, and some are easier than others, and somewhere in there is the right choice for your family.

Reuse old wrap – create cool, one-of-a-kind wrapping from last year’s papers. And come back tomorrow for more ideas for using old giftwrap.

Brown paper – from paper grocery bags, or the recycled craft paper, it makes an attractive giftwrap and can easily be recycled. Decorate with ribbons, or stamp with water-based inks to keep it eco-friendly.

Reusable shopping bag – think of it as two gifts in one. Use a reusable shopping bag to wrap your gift, so much more eco-friendly than paper giftbags!

Double up – tuck their gift into a purse, briefcase, or messenger bag for a cool presentation that involves zero waste.

Newspaper – don’t stop with the comics pages! Though they make great giftwraps, you can use the sports pages to wrap gifts for the athlete in your life, or the financial pages for your uncle the CPA.

Get thrifty – pick up old maps, sheet music, or other unique paper (or fabric) items at a thrift shop and repurpose them as wrapping paper.

Take a cue from Japan – use a small piece of fabric, a bandana, handkerchief, or scarf as a furoshiki to create an eye-catching package.

Container it – from repurposed glass jars (mayo, spaghetti sauce?) to cereal boxes, empty containers can be creatively reused as giftwrap. Go ahead and get cute: Tuck a kitchen-themed gift in a box of a popular cinnamon cereal, then wrap with raffia and decorate with cinnamon sticks.

Put a t on it – another double gift option, wrap one gift with a t-shirt and tie with raffia or fabric ribbon for a virtually trash-free gift. And really, who can complain about a cool t-shirt?

Go tapeless – even if your recycling facility accepts giftwrap, it has to be tape-free. Wrap your gift in fabric that you can tie in knots, or tie in place with ribbon. Tuck your gift in a bag and instead of taping it shut, use a binder clip to hold the top closed. If you are using paper, make crisp folds and tie the package (tightly) in both directions with twine or thin ribbon to avoid needing tape.

Top it off

Making alternative giftwrap shine is all about the toppers. A bit of twine and a miniature pinecone can take a plain brown paper wrapper from blah to bam! in a few twists of string. Get creative and look for themes to use. Go nature inspired and use pine springs, pinecones, bay laurel leaves, holly berries and other bits of plant life for pretty packages.

Or match your toppers to your wrappers, like the cinnamon sticks with the cereal box we mentioned before. Old game pieces, or snowflakes made from newspaper inserts look great on top of comics pages. Old-fashioned cookie cutters are perfect when tied on with baker’s twine. Candy canes or Christmas ornaments make colorful gift toppers as well.

With a little creativity, it’s easy to come up with plenty of alternatives to traditional gift paper, and they’re all some shade of green!