Low Waste Gift Wrapping Guide

Low Waste Gift Wrapping Guide

It doesn’t matter if its Christmas, a birthday, a wedding or if you just want to make someone smile, this guide covers all your low waste gift wrapping needs, all year round.

Traditional wrapping paper is often not recyclable - that shine on the paper is a thin layer of plastic, and the ink used to print that the super cute print you couldn’t help but get… also plastic.  Not to mention the amount of time and resources it took to grow that tree to make the wrapping paper, which only gets used for a very short time before being ripped off the gift and sent to landfill.

This time of year results in so much excess waste, and gift wrapping contributes to this – The Independent stated that Brits throw away the equivalent of 108 million rolls of wrapping paper during Christmas, and according to Sandford University Americans throw away an extra 25% of rubbish during Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period. Seems a bit unnecessary to me…

So, I think it’s time we rethink how we wrap gifts to be a little more eco-conscious, and to help you on your way, I’ve collated some easy and fun ways to wrap your gifts with reusables, upcycling and recyclable materials. 

Old magazines pages, newspaper or brown paper

This style of wrapping is upcycling, giving waste a new life, it can be reused again and if the paper is not shiny it can also be composted.

Select your material of choice, to make it large enough you may need to stick a few pages together using paper tape or whatever you have at home. Use the same technique you would with traditional wrapping paper.

You can also use ribbon or twine to secure it closed to avoid plastic tape.

Here I used magazine pages and brown twine – no tape.

Furoshiki wrapping

The Japanese art of folding fabric. This is my favourite method and is surprisingly easy to do. There are different techniques for different shaped items, which you can see below thanks to the Japanese Ministry of Environment.

Simply use scrap material from around the house, a scarf from the op shop or a tea towel which then becomes a gift wrapped in a gift.

Here I used a tea towel and dried flowers.

How to use "Furoshiki" from Japanese Ministry of Environment.

Repurposing old jars and containers

Another favourite of mine (I think I have too many favourites), this is so easy, cost-effective and looks great. Whether its old food containers from your recycling bin or a vintage tin or glass jar from the op shop, this is a great way to gift bulk brought treats or home-baked goodies. Finish with string and a handmade tag.

This is an old coconut yogurt jar with some ribbon.


Another gift inside a gift idea. Try using reusable produce bags or tote bags that can then be used afterwards - Win-Win! This is a clever idea that reduces the need for getting extra materials for wrapping, making it the most zero waste option around!   

Here I used our Eco Saint Large Produce bag. Using the drawstring to secure it closed and tie a bow. Topped this off with a handmade tag using cardboard and a ribbon.


Ribbon & string

To top off any of these ideas use ribbon or string from around the house. If you are buying these, make sure you are getting a natural fibre like cotton to avoid synthetic materials.

Homemade cards and tags

Using old magazines or cardboard in your recycling bin, make your own card or tag and handwrite your message.

Decorative touch

For an extra treat, try using fresh cut flowers or greenery from your garden, pinecones or dried fruit. This makes your gift look extra good and can be composted once they are no longer needed. You can also dry the flowers and greenery and keep in a vase until next year.

Remember to avoid cello tape or buying anything new to achieve the ultimate zero waste gift wrapping experience. If you need tape, look out for ones only made from paper (such as the gum paper tape I use for my packages).

Happy Holidays xo

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