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It’s difficult to find wrapping paper that is recycled, or contains any post-consumer content at all. On top of that, recycling wrapping paper gets tricky because it sometimes contains lower grade fibers that don’t recycle easily. Plus, if there are ribbons and bows, glitter, metallic additives or other waxy laminates, these materials often contaminate the paper recycling stream. Paper is the type of material that most often winds up in landfills, and during the holiday season, wrapping paper makes up a ton of that waste.
To help reduce waste, some areas publicize special recycling programs for gift wrap after the holidays, so keep that on your radar. But also consider using these alternatives to than that familiar, shrink-wrapped roll for your holiday presents.
Reusable Gift Wrap – Wrapsacks!
Imagine being able to follow your Wrapsack’s journey as it circulates from one person to another. Well you can, if you have a cloth Wrapsack! Using their unique Track-a-Sack interface on their website, you can see where your Wrapsack travels to or where it came from, what gifts it’s carried and what celebrations it’s been a part of. Plus, these spiffy little sacks rank high in the reusable department, and family and friends would appreciate the unique drawstring style. You can read more about how the sacks are ethically-sourced in Indonesia, and about the batik fabric technique on their website.
Of course, if you’re one of those practical jokers that insists on wrapping each gift multiple times, in several boxes, or uses too much tape all for amusement’s sake, then this option isn’t for you. Read on!
Other Things You Can Use as Wrapping Paper
- The comics section of the newspaper is colorful enough to add some flair and rates better than just plain newspaper which is kind of inky.
- Maps (if you’ve got some old ones lying around) can look pretty cool reused as wrapping paper.
- Fabric scraps or pillowcases.
- The plain brown side of paper grocery bags will work and you can use markers or cut up old Christmas cards to decorate it up a bit.
- One gift can be a wrapper for another, like using a towel or other linens or a sweater to wrap something else.
- Furoshiki is a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that was used to transport gifts or other goods. The ways that the fabric is folded means you won’t need an extra bow or ribbon. The fun and easy instructions on this site will teach you how to make the fabric wrap attractive and artful.
- Make your own reusable gift packages by sprucing up oatmeal or coffee tins like these.
- And for the semi-Grinch: A garbage bag. I’m not kidding-I actually did this once when I was out of wrapping paper and could only find a black garbage bag. It ended up looking shiny and kind of sleek. It also adds that “I’m totally on a budget” look that makes the recipient feel lucky they even got a present at all! Using a (clean) sock has the same effect!
*Tip* If you’re going to splurge on anything, make it the bow. Bows can easily be saved and reused. Here’s a great example- plain brown paper decorated with snowflakes cut from newspaper and topped off by a fantastic bow that will be kept and used again.
Recycled Wrapping Paper
If no substitutions will do, check out gift wrap which is printed on only 100% recycled paper with soy ink.
Topping It Off
Recycled gift bows made from magazines! Here’s the instructions.
You can make your own gift tags too! These are made from old Christmas cards.
Alright, that’s a wrap! *groan*