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There are many reasons to make gift wrapping sustainable. It is better for the environment, it prevents a lot of waste from ending up in landfills or, even worse, in nature, and it can be cheaper than fancy but wasteful wrapping paper. A gift wrapped in an old newspaper, a hand-crocheted sock, or a beautiful piece of fabric can make the ritual of giving even more meaningful.
The fact is that gift wrapping produces a massive amount of waste. The tape and plastic ribbons are obvious culprits, but did you know that all the shiny, glittery, and metallic wrapping papers contain plastic and cannot be recycled at all? Even the tissue paper, which seems innocent, is often already made from recycled materials and can therefore not be recycled a second time. Luckily, there are many eco-friendly ways to wrap your gifts that are equally beautiful and economical.
Think Outside the Box(es)
Save your delivery parcels throughout the year, and reuse them for all the special occasions. If the box looks a little… well, ugly, find some old magazines or newspapers and stick them on top. Remember to recycle the boxes with cardboard afterward.
Upcycle the Odd Bits
Save odd bits and pieces like tissue paper, ribbons, etc. You can find and use anything from old cookie jars to those colorful leggings you have in the back of your closet. Sometimes it’s nice to indulge in potato chips, but did you know that the inner lining of the package is not recyclable? Next time you have cravings, save the bag, wash it off, turn it inside out, and just like that, you have a silver shiny wrapping pocket, perfect for your next gift.
Add a Piece of Nature
The bow or plastic ribbon can easily be replaced by things you can find in nature. Dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks, branches, rosemary, pinecones, or whatever you can find in your backyard or close to your home will bring a fresh touch to your package.
Stick to Eco-Friendly Tape
This little sticky piece of plastic might be easy to forget, but it creates massive amounts of waste in total. Use biodegradable tape instead or washi tape. It is compostable, made with wood fibers, and has a completely natural adhesive.
Reuse Old Paper Bags
After you’re done with your shopping, you will likely end up with an abundance of paper bags. Why not reuse them as gift wrap? You can take them as they are or cut them flat and use the unprinted inside of the bag. You can alter them by punching out stars or pine trees, adding stamps, or drawing something.
Get Crafty With It
If you’re slightly more crafty than the average person, you can sew your own bags to put the gift in. The bag is perfect to reuse afterward, making it circular. The effort put into it, is also something that will be highly appreciated by the receiver.
Be a Little Square - Find Your Box
While we don’t suggest going out of your way to buy new boxes, you might have a whole set of them scattered around your house. Old jewelry boxes, perfume cartons, or gift boxes you’ve previously received, all work perfectly to put your gift in. The beauty of this is that the reverse also works, the gift boxes can find a new purpose after the gift has been given.
Tie It All Together
Replace all the plastic ribbons and plastic bow ties with natural and sustainable options. Skip the meters of waste that end up in nature and choose a natural option instead.
Wrap It up With Furoshiki
One of our absolute favorite ways to gift wrap sustainably, is to do it furoshiki-style. Furoshiki is an ancient Japanese tradition where a piece of fabric is used instead of paper. You can use left-over fabric that you have at home from old curtains, sheets, tables cloths or clothes, and cut out a square piece, or you can go to a thrift shop and hunt for old scarves. If you are interested in learning more about this, check out our other blod post here.