No matter the occasion, giving and opening gift-wrapped presents is one of life’s great joys. But for those of us who are committed to living greener lives, wrapping paper poses a dilemma. While very attractive, once opened the paper is immediately discarded. This is extremely wasteful, given that trees are cut down to make it. Additionally, many types of wrapping paper cannot be recycled meaning they end up in landfills. The good news is that there are more sustainable ways of giving gifts. To help, the following article suggests 10 eco-friendly alternatives to wrapping paper.
Making use of baskets is a particularly beautiful way of presenting gifts to your loved ones. A useful item in its own right, the basket becomes a nice extra component of the gift. What’s more, baskets made from sustainable materials (such as bamboo) are environmentally friendly. You can easily find lovely, affordable baskets at charity shops, second-hand shops, or thrift stores.
2. Cans & Jars
Rather than throwing cans and jars straight in the recycling bin, why not use them as gift containers? This option has the added benefit of their wide availability since cans and jars will no doubt be a part of your weekly shop.
Simply remove labels and clean them thoroughly. Thereafter, decorate with recycled tissue paper or a bow made from sustainable materials. Both cans and jars make a very good choice for storing home-made edible gifts.
3. Shopping Bags
There are two options in one here: paper grocery bags and reusable shopping bags. Paper grocery bags can make for quite lovely wrapping paper. All it takes to repurpose them is some careful cutting and folding. Once tied with string, they will give any present a rustic, old-fashioned look.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of reusable shopping bags that often come with highly attractive designs. As such, they'll be decorative enough for giving to friends or family. The recipient then has the added benefit of reusing the bags themselves. It can be for either shopping or gift-wrapping.
Burlap is another way to lend presents a charming, old-fashioned air. This is also a great option if you have to wrap larger presents. All you need to do is measure and then cut a length that will cover the gift in question. Then, carefully fold the burlap around it, and fasten it. To make it more festive you can add bows, string, or even pinecones and holly.
Similarly to burlap, fabric scraps can also be a great alternative to wrapping paper. Instead of throwing away old bedsheets or blankets, cut them down to size and repurpose them. If you don’t have any old fabric to hand, then you can easily find some at a charity shop.
You can then tie the fabric up using the Japanese folding technique of Furoshiki. This not only results in a very attractive knot pattern, but also saves you from having to use tape to seal the gift.
6. Clay Pots
If you’re an avid gardener, and have a surplus of clay plant pots, then consider using these as gift containers. You can either decorate the pots themselves with chalk or paint, or wrap them in a pretty fabric pattern. If the pot has a dish for catching water, place this on top as a lid and fasten with any range of eco-friendly materials. Once the recipient has opened their gift, they’ll also have a new pot for growing flowers.
7. Old Newspapers & Magazines
Do you have an abundance of old newspapers and magazines lying around? Well, they can be used to create attractive wrapping paper. On their own, they provide a great vintage look to gifts. However, you can further brighten things up with twine, ribbons, or bows. Since newspapers and magazines are recyclable, they make a great sustainable alternative to many types of wrapping paper.
Since the emergence of smartphones and satnavs, maps have become increasingly obsolete. But that doesn’t mean you should just throw them out. Their colourful and intricate designs make for a striking gift wrap. To make the present extra personal, you can use a map of the recipient’s home or a location you visited together. As with newspapers and magazines, old maps are recyclable. So, once properly disposed of, they won’t harm the environment.
9. Old Calendar Pages
Calendars often feature a range of beautiful designs. Once the year is over, rather than throwing these out, keep hold of them. They can be a visually appealing option for wrapping presents. If it’s for a birthday present, you can personalise it by using the month in which the recipient was born.
10. Leftover Wallpaper Or Draw Lining Paper
Wallpaper is generally designed to be aesthetically pleasing. So, if you have recently renovated your house and you have some left over, don’t throw it away. You can use it to make your outgoing presents look truly unique. Draw lining paper also frequently sports pretty patterns and designs. As such, this too can be repurposed to make attractive wrapping paper.
By using any of these ideas, you’ll be well on your way to achieving eye-catching gift-wrap status. But you don’t need to stop there! With a little extra effort, and no further risk to the environment, you can make these gifts even more extra special.
For instance, try placing dried orange slices or cinnamon sticks with your presents. In so doing, you will create a lovely aroma when your gift is delivered and opened. This works particularly well with containers like jars, tins, baskets, or clay pots. Alternatively, plant cuttings or tree trimmings can add a wonderful rustic feel to a gift.
If you’re giving kitchen-related presents, fasten wooden utensils to the gift. You can use twine or burlap to secure them. This will add a homespun charm while also providing useful utensils.
Many everyday household items can be repurposed as gift embellishments. It just takes a bit of imagination and creativity.
A Greener Approach To Gift-Giving
It's entirely possible to help save the environment while showing your loved ones how much you care through heartfelt gifts. As this article has shown, there are multiple sustainable alternatives to wrapping paper. They all allow you to send lovely presents without causing any unnecessary extra harm to our beloved planet.