Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas for the Season
Eco-friendly wrapping paper, gift bags and more are creative ways to offset our ecological impact around the holidays, so we can fully enjoy the joy of the season knowing we aren’t harming the environment.
Well, we’re officially in the thick of the exciting holiday season! The hustle, the bustle, the never ending to do list…it is all on us. Who has time to think proactively and creatively about something as mundane as GIFT WRAPPING, when it is so easy to just grab whatever roll is available near the checkout counter when you’re running errands? But here’s a sobering fact: Consumer habits during the holiday season have a huge ecological impact on our planet. According to the Clean Air Council,
"In the U.S., an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated during the holidays. Four million tons of this is wrapping paper and shopping bags."
What?!?! That seems ludicrous, especially when you think about the 0.7 seconds it typically takes someone to rip that non-eco-friendly gift wrapping off! If you’ve read this far, hopefully that means you’re a fellow eco-crusader who wants to do your part to minimize unnecessary waste this season.
Luckily, you have beautiful and eco-friendly wrapping paper and other gift wrap options right at your fingertips, through EcoEnclose and by reusing or repurposing items you already have in your home, office, and backyard. Whether you’re wrapping up the presents under your own tree this season, or you provide gift wrapping options to your customers, there are a lot of ways to offer an exceptional unwrapping experience while still thinking “zero waste.”
Not sure where to start? Grab your eco-friendly wrapping paper and read on. Here, I’ve showcased some of my sustainable gift wrapping concepts, all developed with recyclability, sustainability, biodegradability, and a unique style and creativity, in mind.
Five EcoFriendly Gift Wrap Inspirations
Bottom Box: Newsprint Paper Roll, Brown on White GreenWrap, linen twine, banana paper gift tag, and a star ornament Triangular Box: Triangular Tube Mailer, Bogus Paper Roll, and an organic candy cane! The design was imprinted using a rubber stamp and eco-friendly fabric paint. Middle Box: Newsprint Paper Roll, organic linen fabric, hemp twine, banana paper gift tag, and real feathers! Top box: Bogus Paper Roll, White on White GreenWrap, raffia, evergreen branch, kraft gift tag, painted maple leaves. The design was imprinted using a rubber stamp and eco-friendly fabric paint. The leaves are dried/pressed maple leaves that were painted with the same eco-friendly fabric ink.
How to pull it together: Wrap gifts with the eco-friendly wrapping paper (Paper Roll) as you would gift wrap (using eco-friendly tape or compostable stickers or labels). Stamp on designs if desired and let dry. Tie the branches and embellishments into place with the twine, and tie with raffia if you wish. Designs were imprinted using a rubber stamp and eco-friendly fabric paint. The leaves are dried/pressed maple leaves that were painted with the same eco-friendly fabric paint. The gift tag template was downloaded from the web, and the design on the gift tag is made with an eco-friendly paint pen. I dipped the evergreen branch in beeswax (local!) to keep it from drying out to quickly.
How to pull it together: You will need to dry/press then paint the leaves ahead of time. Wrap gifts with the Bogus paper as you would gift wrap (using eco-friendly tape or compostable stickers or labels). Stamp on designs and let dry. Tie the branches and embellishments into place with the twine, then tie the raffia into place. The design was imprinted using a rubber stamp and eco-friendly fabric paint. The leaves are dried/pressed maple leaves that were painted with the same eco-friendly fabric paint. The design on the gift tag is made with an eco-friendly paint pen.
What was used: 30# Kraft Paper Roll, Indented Kraft Paper Roll, burlap ribbon, evergreen branches (real), pinecones (real), hemp twine, sleigh bells, brown and recycled gift tags. (The red one was recycled from last year’s valentines!)
How to pull it together: Wrap your gift with the Kraft paper (using eco-friendly tape or compostable stickers or labels). Tie the branches and embellishments into place with the twine, then tie the ribbon into place. (The ribbon is to large to hold the embellishments.) The designs on the smaller package and red gift tag are made with an eco-friendly paint pen, and as with previous examples, the evergreen boughs were dipped in local beeswax to prevent them from drying out.
What was used: Tuck Boxes, raffia, evergreen branches (real), cinnamon sticks, hemp twine, fiber from an unraveled basket handle, and Kraft gift tags.
How to pull it together: Assemble tuck boxes. Tie the branches and embellishments into place with the twine. Tie the raffia and any other choice of ribbon into place if applicable. The designs on the gift tags are made with an eco-friendly paint pen. This is a great, natural-looking, eco-friendly wrapping paper alternative that is sure to wow the gift recipient.
What was used: Shopping Bags (used as gift bags), pressed/dried leaves, branches with berries (real), evergreen branches (real), cinnamon sticks, hemp twine, homemade drawings/pictures, homemade ornaments (see below!).
How to pull it together: Press/dry leaves ahead of time. Tie embellishments onto the bag handles with ribbon or twine. Once again, dip the evergreen branches in beeswax to prevent dryness.
What was used: Kids art… it is so innocent, fresh, and meaningful! This super cute ornament was made with bottle caps, so you can see how fun it is to get creative!
Recap of Supplies To "Eco-fy” Your Wrapping
Reused or repurposed wrapping and adornments:
- Newspaper can look beautiful as sustainable wrapping paper, especially with creative adornments
- Pictures your kids bring home from school, since there is only so much room on that refrigerator! A hand drawn picture or card (on recycled or reused paper of course!)
- Other reused or recycled papers, such as comics, old maps, and old sheet music make great sustainable alternatives to wrapping paper.
- Reused gift bags. If the season or occasion for the gift bags you have isn’t right, you may be able to repurpose with some fun additions.
- Reused Kraft or white boxes you already have at home or in the office
- Feathers, shells, pinecones, and other collected items – be creative!
- Clippings from evergreens, winter berry trees and bushes
- Cinnamon Sticks, lollipops, and candy canes
- If you are already planning to include small toys in a gift, include them as an adornment instead
- Necklace pendants, either that you have at home and no longer wear, or that you were planning to gift, make great adornments.
Purchased, sustainable alternatives to gift wrap that are made with recycled content and are reusable, recyclable or compostable:
- Cloth gift bags, such as those available through VZ Wraps or Reuseit.com.
- If it isn’t feasible for you to reuse or repurpose items, and you intend on purchasing wrapping, consider using EcoEnclose products such as our recycled tissue paper, recycled shopping bags (as gift bags), recycled tuck boxes, recycled paper rolls, or recycled corrugated boxes. Our GreenWrap makes a creative adornment to any package, and can be used for wrapping fragile items.
- Plain Kraft, gray or white paper options that are made with recycled content or are certified FSC and/or SFI
- Twine gift wrapping and string, made with hemp or linen.
- Natural fabric ribbon and bows, such as cotton, hemp or burlap. Or, cotton lace can be used as well.
- Don’t forget to use ecofriendly adhesives, such as this Scotch tape, compostable stickers or labels, or even EcoEnclose Cello tape.
Other Tips To Reduce Your Gift Wrapping Footprint
Remember, when in doubt – Reduce first (I sometimes think of it as “refuse”), reuse (or repurpose) second, and recycle (or compost) third.
Avoid the landfill whenever possible!
When presents are being unwrapped, have containers ready for compost and for recycling, to make sure even your eco-friendly wrapping goes to the right place, and doesn’t all end up landfill bound.
On that note, don’t put conventional wrapping paper into the compost bin unless it says that it is biodegradable. The chemicals and toxins in the paper can be toxic.
Let gift recipients know how they should dispose of any wrapping paper so your thoughtful efforts don’t go to waste!
Don’t burn colored or foil wrapping in the fire! The chemicals and additives used in many of these wrapping papers can be carcinogenic when burned. Learn more.
Some Parting, Non-Wrapping Ideas For The Season
Cut down on gifts. Ask yourself, does great Uncle Buck really need (or want) another tie, or would he rather have a homemade treat, or a wonderful afternoon spent with you?
Recycled wrapping paper can only go so far, however. When you are buying gifts, consider when less is more. One high quality, thoughtfully made item often means so much more than five less expensive, less durable and less ethically made alternatives. If you’re looking to learn more about companies who match your values, check out our Pinterest board (www.pinterest.com/ecoenclose) where we showcase one thousand of the Earth conscious companies we have the privilege of serving. Also be sure to explore our eco-friendly gift guides to find inspiration for everyone on your list.
Make the right Christmas tree decision for you! In many instances, a live tree is more ecofriendly than an artificial tree (especially when purchased from a local tree farm with sustainable, rotational practices and then mulched after the holiday). A living tree in your home for the week and then planted outside is even better. A potted plant in your home that can double as a Christmas tree is also great. And then there are stunning wood and even cardboard ornament tree options that are also wonderful.
Keep your holiday lights on a timer, and keep it to a minimum, shining only when people are actually going to enjoy the view.
Don’t wait until the last minute. Studies have shown that ecommerce is more environmentally friendly than most brick and mortar counterparts, but not when two day or overnight shipping is selected. Shop in advance and select the longest shipping option that works for you (even when they are offering two day shipping for free!) to ensure products are delivered via ground and not air transport.
Hopefully this post brings you some crafty inspiration to wrap up those offerings to your customers or the special people in your life. This year, we hope you are able to relax, remember the real reason for the season, and bring deep joy and thoughtfulness to our holiday rituals!