Sustainable Ways to Gift Wrap


A beautifully wrapped holiday gift or a special occasion is pleasing to the eye, but have you ever thought about the waste that is created by the extravagant wrapping, ribbons, and bows? Cardboard boxes, fabric ties, and even greeting cards create unnecessary waste and hurt the environment, not to mention the fact that they are used temporarily, torn off, and disposed of. By using reusable, green wrapping paper and bags as well as other homemade packaging ideas, you can ensure that your gifts will be beautiful and concealing, while protecting the earth.

Hearts guide to sustainable gift wrap will not only benefit the planet, it’ll save you money, too! Don’t forget the holiday e-cards , too!

Quick Facts: Gift Wrapping Waste in America

  • 2 pounds of gift wrap per American: Every year, Americans use at least 40 million tons of paper products for wrapping, packaging, and decorating gifts during Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays.[i]  That’s two pounds of gift wrapping paper annually.[ii]
  • 4 million tons of giftwrap and shopping bags: The trash generated from gift wrapping paper and shopping bags for special occasions in the US totals 4 million tons.[iii]
  • Enough ribbon to wrap the earth: 38,000 miles of ribbon is discarded every year, which is enough to tie a bow around the entire earth.[iv]

Take Action! Go Green with Gift Wrapping

  1. Package gifts in practical, reusable items: Cheap gift wrapping starts with the reusable. Try upcycling everyday household items such as a map, stocking, or scarf, or bits of paper and other items to make one-of-a-kind wrap art. Or utilize part of the gift itself, such as the receiving blanket for baby shower presents.
  2. Make your own sustainable giftwrap with reusable fabric bags: Practice sustainable giftwrapping by making fabric reusable bags, such as you’ll find in these fabric giftwrap sewing instructions. Also try this reusable two-handled tote bag or a small crocheted gift bag.
  3. Create reusable gift boxes: Make gorgeous reusable gift boxes from refashioned oatmeal canisters, cereal boxes, or upcycled greeting cards.
  4. Dress them up with reusable ribbons: Make your own fabric bows that can be reused to dress up a Christmas tree or a wreath.
  5. Buy premade reusable gift wrappings: Many companies offer a wide variety of high-quality and beautiful wrapping paper, boxes, and gift bags, such as Reuse It, The Gift Wrap Company, Green Field Paper Company, Jillson Roberts, and Wrapsacks.

Dig Deeper: Solid Waste and the Holidays

  • Get a visual sense of the holiday waste in America via this infographic.
  • Learn more about solid waste statistics in America through the Zero Waste campaign.
Images By: lovelihood and Elin B

[i]  Facts About Recycling Wrapping Paper. (2012). Retrieved from Earth 911 Web site:

[ii] Reducing Gift Wrap Waste. (2010). Retrieved from Environment Report:

[iii]  Facts on Holiday Waste. (2012). Retrieved from San Mateo County RecycleWorks Web site:

[iv]  Facts on Holiday Waste. (2012). Retrieved from San Mateo County RecycleWorks Web site:

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