10 Sustainable Ideas for Wrapping Holiday Gifts

10 Sustainable Ideas for Wrapping Holiday Gifts

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us! Many people and families will cook their favorite dishes, bake cookies, make candies, attend festive events and holiday gatherings, and give gifts to others, to name just a few well-known traditions.

Gift giving is celebrated by many cultures around the world, and in the United States, gifts come in many forms—from food and clothing, to toys, gift cards, electronics and more. Naturally, when giving a thoughtful gift to a loved one, it is commonplace to deliver it wrapped.

In some instances, wrapping a gift itself has become a type of creative expression. There are a multitude of ways to wrap a gift, with books, articles and videos available to teach you how. Gift wrapping and receiving is a positive experience and the appearance of a neatly wrapped gift in paper that has glitter, foil and flocking can build even more anticipation of opening the gift to see what’s inside.

Unfortunately, the glittery gloss and fancy finishes often make wrapping paper unrecyclable. Earth 911 estimates that each year, 4.6 million pounds of paper is produced, and 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper ends up in landfills1. Thankfully, there are many eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives that you can consider when carefully preparing the wonderful gifts you’ve chosen.

Replacing Wrapping Paper and Bows with Eco-Friendly Alternatives

1. Reusable Gift Bags: Gift bags come in many shapes and sizes and are a great alternative to wrapping paper. One of their top qualities is that they can be re-used year after year – and many are sturdy enough to last many years. When using gift bags, the ideal environmental choice is a completely reusable option, such as the re-usable fabric gift bag set that is sold at Tare Market. Another good alternative is to re-use paper gift bags that don’t have glossy, metallic or glittery finishes.

2. Get Creative with Brown Paper Bags: As simple as brown paper bags seem, they can be a great option for wrapping gifts. Whether using them as is or decorating them yourself, they are a sustainable option that is completely compostable. You can decorate brown paper bags with a marker and add an upcycled ribbon for a more festive look. Visit Emma Courtney Home for details on how to make these.

Decorated brown paper bags for gifts

3. Re-use Shopping Bags: Have you ever gone shopping and walked out of the store with such a nice shopping bag that you don’t want to throw it away? There are many shopping bags that can be re-purposed as they are, or with a simple tweak like creating a design on paper to cover the store logo, if preferred.

4. Fabric Wrap: Wrapping gifts in fabric is in fact one of the oldest ways to wrap a gift. Furoshiki, as it is called in Japan, is a traditional fabric wrap that comes in various sizes and is purposely stretchy in order to wrap around boxes2. It can even be tied so that an additional string or ribbon is not needed. The fabrics are beautifully designed and purposely eye-catching, and it is common courtesy to return them to the gift giver.

5. Newspaper or Tissue Paper: Newspaper or tissue paper can be used for wrapping and both are completely compostable (although the same rules about glitter, gloss or metallic finishes apply to tissue paper as these finishes affect the ability for tissue paper to be composted)3. Either option can work especially well for small sized boxes since one page of newspaper or one piece of tissue paper can often do the trick!

6. Re-use Boxes: Shirt boxes, jewelry boxes, nesting boxes, gift card boxes, electronics boxes… they all can be and should be considered for re-use.

7. Natural Jute Twine or Natural String: Twine or string are lovely alternatives to ribbons and bows as many ribbons and bows are not compostable or recyclable. In addition to natural colored twine or white string, there are cute colored and stripped versions available for holidays and celebrations.

8. Recyclable Kraft Tape: Kraft Tape is a perfect alternative to unrecyclable sticky tape. The Kraft Tape sold at Tare Market is fully recyclable and won’t contaminate the recycling bin. It is easy to tear by hand, is self-adhesive, is non-reinforced, and comes in multiple widths.

Kraft tape for holiday wrapping

9. Getting Crafty with Gift Tags: Kraft Paper or Brown Paper Bags can be great alternatives to sticky, sparkly or glossy gift tags. Simply cut out a rectangle and attach with some jute twine. Another alternative is to re-purpose holiday greeting cards that you’ve received—it is easy to cut out or punch out portions of the card to create a unique design that can be attached to a gift.

10. What about an Extra-Large Gift? It can be difficult to know what to do with extra-large gifts, and sometimes it can be acceptable to not wrap a gift at all! If you want to surprise the recipient, get creative and wrap or draw a picture of the item. Once the gift has been opened, share the location of the actual gift. The surprise will be equally pleasing regardless of whether it is wrapped or not, and sometimes a hand-drawn “stand in” is fun to see too. 

We hope you found these ideas helpful as you get into wrapping mode. At Tare Market, we want to make sustainable living convenient and accessible to all, so as a community we can decrease our environmental impact. With our collective efforts in reducing the usage of holiday wrapping paper, we can all make a difference this holiday season!


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