A girl's quest to live on the greener side.

3 Zero Waste Gift Wrapping Alternatives

zero waste gift wrapping

By: Ariana Palmieri

Gift wrapping is a tedious task. You spend so much time making it look perfect, but it only takes seconds to be ripped off and chucked in the garbage. It certainly says a lot about consumer culture: We're so used to creating waste that we don't even think twice about throwing something away. Sadly, the holidays are the most wasteful time of year: Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year period. Considering the average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash per day, that's a huge increase (25 million tons of extra garbage to be exact).

However, for those who are eco-conscious, there is a solution: Avoid conventional gift wrap and get creative! There are so many ways to wrap a gift without creating more waste. Here are three zero waste gift wrapping alternatives you need to try this holiday season. 


zero waste gift wrapping
Here's how I wrapped my mom's gifts: I used salvaged packaging paper, jute twine, and pine tree sprigs! No tape what so ever.

1. Maps, newspapers and calendars 

Have any old maps, newspapers or calendars lying around? They'd make great wrapping paper! If you have a loved one in your life who loves to travel, wrap their gift in an old map. Cooler yet, gift them a plane ticket or cash for an upcoming trip inside their map-wrapped box. If you know someone who loves staying up to date on the news, wrap their gift in newspaper. The cool part is most newspapers have different sections: If there's a comedian in your family, wrap his gift using the comics section; if you have a foodie friend, wrap their gift using the restaurant review section. Taylor it to their interests. Last but not least, old calendars can be used as gift wrap too: The gift receiver can use it for scrap paper or marking off days where something eventful and significant happened to them. You can also use calendar pictures to wrap the gifts, as these tend to be really beautiful. After all, who doesn't want a picture of a cute kitten or a stunning bird? The gift receiver can even hang up the pretty calendar pictures on their wall after the holidays. Another bonus idea is using salvaged packaging paper to wrap your gifts. That's what I did (pictured above)! Zero waste gift wrapping is so easy with this paper and it can be composted or recycled easily after use. It also looks really cute and adds a rustic feel to your gifts!


zero waste gift wrapping
These gifts were wrapped in fabric: I used handmade lace I got at a local vintage store. Then I added some pine sprigs! 

2. Fabric gift wrap (furoshiki)

Have you ever heard of furoshiki? It's basically the art of gift wrapping with fabric, and it's huge in Japan. To wrap a gift furoshiki style, you'll need a simple square of silk or nylon cloth. You can also use blankets for really big gifts and vintage scarves/bandannas for smaller gifts. Personally, I used handmade lace I found in a local vintage store to wrap some of my gifts (pictured above). Vintage scarves, handmade lace, bandannas and blankets make unique wraps, plus they can be worn/reused by the gift receiver. In a way, it's kind of like receiving two gifts! Wrapping the gift is easy too. Just place your fabric on a flat surface with the pretty side down. Put your gift in the center, then grab two opposite corners and knot them over the gift. Do the same with the remaining two ties. Tada, you're done! I personally love this form of zero waste gift wrapping and thought it was a lot of fun!


3. Tins, cans and clay pots 

Sometimes, gifts don't actually need to be wrapped, just cleverly packaged. Try opting for a reusable metal tin if you're making someone a piece of jewelry, a DIY lip balm, candle, hand salve or body lotion. You don't have to label it (so the contents will remain a mystery), but you can decorate it with a bow made from twine. You can also use emptied and cleaned cans to contain unique gifts such as jewelry, hair accessories, small toys and makeup products. If the can is missing a cover, try covering it with a piece of fabric and tying twine around it to keep the fabric in place. Another item you can use to package gifts is a clay pot (such as a terra cotta pot) coupled with a terra cotta base. Choose the right size terra cotta pot for your gift and place the gift inside it. Then, take the terra cotta base out from under the pot and use it as a lid. To make sure the lid stays on, secure it with a tight-fitting bow. This works great for any gardening gifts you'd like to give (seeds, gardening gloves, gardening tools, etc.), but can be used for just about any present, depending on the size. Of course, no matter what's inside, the terra cotta pot and lid can be used for housing plants after the holidays are over. 


zero waste gift wrapping
Here's a picture of (almost) all the gifts I wrapped in zero waste gift wrapping. The best part? The gifts are zero waste too!

Decorating your gifts 

You can finish off all your presents by using some twine or jute to create bows. For decoration, add some pine tree sprigs and dried oranges or lemons. Your gifts will look super unique! Also, if you'd like to include a gift tag, consider making or buying one out of seed paper.

Have you ever tried zero waste gift wrapping? Let me know in the comments below!

1 comment

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