3 Simple Ideas for Sustainable Gift Wrap

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Today’s blog post is a special treat – a guest post on sustainable gift wrap!

Like many others I’m sure, I’ve become more aware of the waste issue we have on our hands. In addition to regular garbage, only about 20% of recyclables are actually recycled, and the result is overflowing landfills, plastic in our oceans, and ultimately, contamination of our food and water sources. We simply produce too. much. trash. The solution isn’t recycling, it’s reducing.

Because I am not an expert on the subject of zero-waste living (but I’m trying to learn!), my good friend Kristi is speaking up. She and her husband have been making moves to cut out as much waste as possible in their lives, including using tooth powder, zero-waste grocery shopping, and growing the majority of their fruits and vegetables in their own backyard. Be sure to follow her on Instagram at @hansonavehomestead to see sustainable living in action!

How to Wrap Christmas Presents in an Eco-Friendly Way

The holidays are not only a time for joy and fellowship, but also for spending.  We spend on gifts, shipping fees, decorations, food, ugly sweaters, and so much more. 

On top of all of that, we spend more money on wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and gift tags – all for someone to look at the present, open it, and throw all the packaging away.

Most studies show that Americans generate about 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Years.

There are countless websites that give tips on how to reduce waste during the holiday season, but not all of them are realistic or affordable for the average household.  Most of us don’t have a variety of burlap sacks or thin linen towels lying around to use in place of wrapping paper. 

Here are 3 simple ideas that anyone can do to celebrate the holidays in an eco-friendly way for little to no money. The one thing you might have to buy is scotch tape!

1. Reuse What You Have

This sustainable gift wrap idea is probably the easiest.  Rather than throwing out the gift bags, ribbons, and bows, save them to reuse over and over

There is no reason these items should be used only once, or that you should go out and buy new ‘sustainable’ materials to wrap gifts.

Growing up, my family had a small closet dedicated to old gift bags in a variety of sizes, for several occasions. 

I am also the crazy person at events who asks to keep bags that others are going to throw out. Gently used ribbons and bows can be used for years and years. 

2. Forget the Tissue Paper

Although tissue paper can make a gift look complete, it is often something that gets immediately crumpled up and thrown away. 

I work in a school full-time, which unfortunately produces a lot of waste. I shred non-confidential documents from work to use in place of tissue paper.  If anything, this adds a fun element to my gifts and can act as a conversation starter.

Even better, the paper shreds can be recycled after use. This can be done with any papers in your recycling bin such as magazines, newspapers, or random junk mail.  The only other thing you need is access to is a paper shredder.

sustainable gift wrap

3. Upcycle Before You Recycle

Last but not least, how do we tackle the biggest culprit of waste: the wrapping paper? 

I don’t know anybody who saves wrapping paper after it’s been used once.  It sounds like a good idea, but it’s not realistic.

There are so many other ways to wrap presents with items already in your home without buying countless rolls of wrapping paper.  My two personal favorites are newspaper and brown paper bags. 

I try to use reusable shopping bags as often as I can, but I would be lying if I said I always remembered to bring them.  This time of year allows me to get one more use out of the brown paper bags I get from Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and ShopRite before they’re tossed in my compost bin. For those of you that do not have access to a compost pile, recycling them once you’re done is just as good.

The brown paper bags leave you open to all sorts of decorating possibilities. There’s a reason why this look is so popular on Instagram aside from it being a sustainable gift wrap option!

You can draw or write directly on the paper, add garland or tree cuttings to spruce it up (pun intended), or use other objects for decoration like the ribbon and bows you saved. 

The picture below was inspired by a post from the Zero Waste Store where they recommend cutting up toilet paper rolls to make flowers.  They added dehydrated lemons on top of the flowers, whereas I chose to accent the flower by painting leftover paper scraps.

sustainable gift wrap

Thank you!

Thanks to Amy for letting me take over the blog today and share my passion for making small lifestyle changes in an effort to better care for our environment.  You can check-out my Instagram @hansonavehomestead to follow along in my journey as an amateur homesteader with my husband Peter.

Be sure to leave a comment if you have any other great sustainability ideas for Christmastime, or share if you plan on cutting down on waste this Christmas!

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15 Packing Tips for Your Next Move – This post is full of free/cheap packing tips that will save you money and help you reuse materials to cut down on packing waste!

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