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The Zero Waste Gift Wrapping Guide

There's nothing quite like waking up to stacks of beautifully wrapped presents underneath the tree, but it's also no secret that traditional gift wrapping doesn't exactly complement a zero-waste lifestyle. Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Years? That's nearly 25 million extra tons of garbage! But did you also know that if every family wrapped just three presents in re-used materials it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields?

Whether you're a full-on zero-waste guru or just looking for small ways to ease your ecological footprint, our eco-friendly gift wrapping guide has all the tools you need to create beautifully wrapped presents without putting a strain on mother nature. Even if you you're just giving zero-waste wrapping a try on a few presents this year, you're still making a difference. Plus, you can still create beautiful and unique-looking gifts!


Gift Wrapping Wisdom #1: Save Those Paper Grocery Bags!

The first step to zero waste wrapping is to find something other than traditional wrapping paper to cover the present in. One very easy way that you probably already have lying around the house is to use paper grocery bags. Some already come with fun printed snowflakes or holidays patterns on them, but you can always jazz them up by painting on, drawing on, or stamping them yourself. Some other great zero-waste alternatives to paper grocery bags are:

  • Recycled Paper
  • Dish Cloths
  • Leftover Fabric
  • Newspaper
  • Old Scarves
  • Book Pages

If you need a bit of guidance on how to best wrap gifts in fabric, check out this guide on the Japanese Art of Furoshiki from Marie Kondo.



Gift Wrapping Wisdom #2: Awaken Your Inner Artist

Depending on what material you choose to wrap your present in, there are a variety of ways to customize it. Now's your chance to get creative! If you chose a blank paper, you can draw on it or paint parts of it to create fun patterns. If you're not so artistically inclined, you could use a stamp to create a similar effect. If you chose old napkins or blank leftover fabrics, you could try dying them with natural dyes. Of course, you can always leave everything as-is and embellish your wrapping job in other ways.

Gift Wrapping Wisdom #3: Second-Hand Stores Are Your Best Friend

Second-hand stores can be a great source of inspiration for zero-waste wrapping! You can generally find lots of old fabrics and napkins to use in place of wrapping paper, and many more items to add a bit of pizzazz to your gift. Here are a few items we recommend looking for:

  • Broaches: these make a gorgeous decoration!
  • Old Twine or String: great for tying up your gift
  • T-shirts with fun patterns: another great alternative to wrapping paper
  • Vintage Jewelry: bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and rings can add a bit of sparkle when tied on top of your gift
  • Jingle Bells: They look gorgeous alongside some pine needles, and you're sure to know if any of the kids or pets try to run off with their gifts early!


Gift Wrapping Wisdom #4: Herbs and Fruits and Spices, Oh My!

Herbs, spices, and dried fruits not only look gorgeous atop a wrapped present (we especially love them over butcher paper or plain brown recycled paper), but they also smell amazing. You can even simply step outside and snip a few branches off of your backyard pine tree (assuming, of course, that you have one. always ask neighbors' permission before taking clippings from their trees!). You can experiment, but some of our favorites are:

  • Dried Oranges
  • Pine Tree Branches
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • A Sprig of Thyme or Lavender
  • Bay Leaves

Eco Friendly Gift Wrapping

Gift Wrapping Wisdom #5: Tie it All Up!

Instead of new ribbon bought from a store, see what you can find at your local second-hand store. If you have to buy new, these are your most eco-friendly options:

  • Twine
  • Hemp
  • Leather Cords (avoid this one if you're vegan!)
  • Cotton String

Do you have any clever zero-waste wrapping hacks that we missed? Let us know in the comments!


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