Low Waste Holiday Gift Wrap Ideas

While giving mindful, sustainably-made, and useful gifts is one key element in sustainable gift giving, another essential element is how you choose to wrap the gift itself. I’ve always thought wrapping paper was silly— you spend money on it just for it to be ripped up and tossed out within seconds of someone getting their hands on it! Gift giving is a prime opportunity to reduce waste and add a little bit more fun into your gift giving season. Here are five zero-waste gift wrapping ideas to get you started.

Embrace Furoshiki

I love the idea of Furoshiki— wrapping your gift in a lovely cloth that can be enjoyed as part of the gift itself! The beautiful process involves wrapping gifts in a cloth, which can be anything from a cloth napkin, to a bandana, silk scarf, or whatever cloth you can get your hands on, in a specific and thoughtful way. The recipient can then enjoy the wrapping, or use it to pass on a gift in the future.

Stash it in a stasher bag

Stasher bags are obviously great gifts themselves, so why not wrap your gift in a stasher? It’s a practical way to give, and your recipient will be hooked on the bag itself in addition to the gift you put inside. You can even share some of your favorite recipes or ways to use the bag in the card or on a note you put into the bag so they can get inspiration on how to use it (though I don't think they will have trouble!). Plus, you can even write on the bag and save a gift tag!

Wrap it in newspaper

Last year I wrapped all my gifts in newspaper I had around the house. It’s a free option that allows you to use something that would have otherwise been discarded. To spruce it up a bit, consider tying it with twine (which is generally compostable) and maybe adding a flower, a sprig of fresh rosemary, or anything seasonal and decorative for a festive holiday spin (cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, or tree clippings are all lovely). Pro tip: make sure to check out what news stories are printed on the newspaper you will be using for gift wrapping— no one wants to receive a gift wrapped in bad news.

Reuse what you have

I always save gift bags and nice boxes that I receive gifts in, and then use those as a way to pass gifts forward! That way I keep the bag out of the trash, and I get to use it a second time around (and sometimes the recipient event gives it back so I can use it again!). You can also wrap gifts in extra tote bags you have laying around.

Give digital gifts or donations

The most sustainable wrapping is no wrapping at all! If you give a donation to a charitable cause or buy someone a virtual gift, no gift wrap is necessary. Consider gifting online courses, ebooks, memberships to fitness or meditation apps, or digital gift cards for a zero waste gift altogether. Or you can gift an experience like a vacation, tickets to a play, or something else you can enjoy with the recipient.

However you choose to wrap your gift, make sure it’s mindful for the recipient and the environment. You can even use your low waste gift wrapping as an opportunity to share about your low waste lifestyle and your favorite ways and products to reduce your waste! By starting the conversation and leading by example, you may inspire others to be more mindful about their lifestyle.

This post was written by Sara Weinreb. She is the host of the Medium Well podcast, founder of The M List, contributor at Forbes, and shares it all on IG @saraweinreb

Recommended For You