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Wrapping paper might be pretty, but let’s be real: It’s trash just waiting to be tossed. You tear, crumple it up, and throw it out after looking at it for maybe 15 seconds, give or take. When you think about it, there’s really no reason to use it because there are so many other more sustainable options out there.
Old-school wrappers, hear us out: You can definitely still make your gifts look picture-perfect without contributing to unnecessary waste. Whether you want to use recycled paper or reusable bags, here are some of the best eco-friendly gift wrap ideas out there.
Americans spend billions of dollars on wrapping paper every single year. Earth911 estimates that 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper are produced each year, and about half of that ends up in a landfill.
Think you’re different because you toss your paper in the recycling bin? The most aesthetically pleasing kinds — you know, the glossy, glittery ones— are not recyclable, so it basically just exists to make our gifts look nice.
The only kind of wrapping paper you should be placing in the bin is plain brown paper. Throwing away any other kind could make your entire bin nonrecyclable. Yikes.
- Durability. Recyclable is good, but reusable is even better.
- Materials. We gave extra attention to options made from recycled materials.
- Aesthetics. Obviously you want it to look good, right? Right.
$ = under $15
$$ = $15–$25
$$$ = over $25
Wrappily prints gift wrap on newsprint using local newspaper presses, which means the materials are recycled and can in turn be recycled again. One piece of newsprint can actually be recycled up to seven times, so it’s a really sustainable option that uses less energy and gentler inks.
It’s a bonus that Wrappily offers fun, creative designs that are bright and colorful. You can even create your own custom wrapping paper if you want to get really crafty.
Who needs glittery paper when you can wrap something in a future plant? Triumph Plant Gift Wrap is made of 100 percent recycled paper that’s embedded with hundreds of wildflower seeds.
Once the gift receiver opens their package, they can take this paper outside, plant it in the soil, and wait for it to sprout lots of beautiful flowers.
A set comes with a few sheets of wrapping paper, gift cards, and natural raffia to use instead of ribbons. Think of it this way: when you use this, you’re basically giving someone two gifts in one. You’re welcome.
Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that dates back centuries. It entails a square piece of cloth being used to wrap gifts or transport items. It’s full of history, it’s a reusable fabric, and it looks amazing, so, really, it’s kinda perfect.
Anthropologie sells this reusable fabric in gorgeous, bright colors and patterns that can, and should, be used for any occasion.
Forget paper and opt for these reusable bags instead. They’re much easier to deal with (no complicated folding), they’re more sturdy (no need to worry about them ripping after all your hard work), and they can be used for a wide variety of things once the gift is unwrapped.
These Appleby Lane gift bags come in a few different colors and a set of five offers two different sizes. The ribbon ruffle around the top makes it easy to tie them shut, and it’s just a nice touch.
5. Bee’s Wrap
If you’re gifting someone food (great idea, by the way), wrap it in Bee’s Wrap, or place it in a container and wrap that in Bee’s Wrap. It’s a natural and sustainable alternative to plastic wrap that also happens to be quite aesthetically pleasing, so it works as gift wrap as well. (Ideal for gift giving!)
It’s also reusable, washable, and compostable. You use your hands to soften a sheet as you wrap it around something, then as it cools, it creates a seal. It can be washed in mild soap to be used many more times, so it’s a gift in itself.
Mother Earth would approve of the ingredients as well: Organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin.
If you’re not ready to give up the look of traditional wrapping paper just yet, at least make it something recyclable. Enter Hallmark’s sustainable paper made with low ink coverage.
There’s a total of 90 square feet of paper in this pack, so it will last a while. And, as a nice plus, there are cut lines on the back so that you can wrap with precision.
Boao drawstring gift bags are basically little burlap sacks decorated for the holidays. They’re durable, washable, and reusable (let your gift receiver know that these work great as tote bags at the grocery store).
Wrapping is easier than ever: Just stick your item inside and use the double drawstring to close it up. And with 35 bags in one set, you’ll have enough for many holidays and parties to come.
Wrapeez wrapping sets give you the look of a traditionally wrapped package without all of the pollution that comes with them. The stretchy gift wrap can be wrapped around even the oddest shapes without ripping or tearing, and it feels high quality.
It also has built-in bows to make your gifts look extra impressive, and the set comes with a wine bag and gift card holder as well.
9. Stasher Bags
OK, we know these don’t necessarily look like gift wrap, but Stasher bags are a surprisingly cute and environmentally friendly alternative to plastic baggies.
These food-grade silicone bags are durable: They can go in the microwave, on a hot stove, in the freezer, in the oven, in the dishwasher, and can even be used for sous vide cooking.
The point is you can get a lot of use out of these bad boys. So much so, it’s pretty much like giving two gifts in one.
Wrapper gift wrap is also inspired by furoshiki fabric. It’s organic, biodegradable, and made of recycled materials. It’s also beautiful — Wrapper designs the fabric with artwork curated by a team of graphic designers.
And once the gift has been unwrapped? Tie Wrapper into a tote bag, wrap it around a laptop for easy storage, or use it to wrap another gift. It’s as versatile and sustainable as gift wrap comes.