13 Ways To DIY Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper For Beautiful Sustainably Wrapped Gifts

eco-friendly gift wrap ideas, including kraft paper, colorful printed  scar, and dried orange slice

Here are 13 eco-friendly wrapping paper alternatives to try this holiday season for beautifully wrapped gifts that don’t harm the planet or go to waste. 

Estimated Read Time: 7 minutes

If you’re given a gift wrapped in handmade eco-friendly wrapping paper, will you still open it?

Will you still appreciate it?

Will you still love it?

Of course!

Gifts are amazing regardless of their wrapping and we think it’s time we find another way to wrap presents this holiday season.

Yes, of course, we all like aesthetically pleasing things; the instagrammable Christmas tree delicately protecting the sparkly packages that perfectly match the decor is a gorgeous picture.

But you know what’s even better than that picture? The memory behind that picture. How everyone felt giving and receiving gifts and the quality time spent with family and friends. Not the wrapping paper.

If you’re ready to take the holidays up a notch and try your hand at DIY eco-friendly wrapping paper then look no further. We’ve got you covered!

Why Is Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper Important

ribbons and confetti on floor

Photo by Matheus Frade on Unsplash

After the high of unwrapping and relishing new gifts, comes the low of realizing all that wrapping paper and its accessories are headed to the landfill after one single use.

Gift wrap is right up there with single use plastics. It’s designed for one time use. Not only is that wasteful but it’s expensive!

We Use Too Much

 Americans spend $7 billion on wrapping paper (as of 2016) every year; and if each household wrapped just 3 presents in reused gift wrap, it would save the equivalent 45,000 football fields worth of wrapping paper!

Wrapping Paper Isn’t Recyclable

Wrapping paper is great because it’s shiny! It’s just so pretty! But it’s exactly that prettiness that means it’s not recyclable. Anything containing glitter, foil, velvet, or metal cannot be recycled.

While recyclable wrapping paper is available, it’s extremely flimsy and contains ink, color, and chemicals that often mean it’s not worth it for the recycling companies to process.

Let’s talk about ways you can replace this traditional one time use non-recyclable wrapping paper with a sustainable alternative!

Wrapping Paper Alternatives

cars leaving a camp site by the beach with piles of plastic and trash accumulated around no trash cans

When DIY’ing eco-friendly wrapping paper, if you’re willing to part with your wrapping then pass the tradition along! But if you’re low on stock or want it back to keep reusing it, there’s no shame in asking for your creation back.

DIY Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper From What You Have Lying Around The House

1. Scarves

Whether you’re pulling them out from the back of your closet, picking some up while on vacation, or grabbing them at a discount, scarves are excellent for gift wrapping! Try using the traditional Japanese art of fabric wrapping, called Furoshiki, or just go for it. We’re sure it will be gorgeous. You can also grab a set of reusable gift wrapping scarves here!

2. Old T-Shirts, Clothing, Hole-y Sweaters

We’re not talking about stained rags and clothes (unless maybe you can pass it off as tye-dye). But an unrepairable sweater or an undershirt with a few holes can be cut up and used as gift wrap! Check out this blog for inspo.

3. Old Rags/Tea Towels

Got a few extra rags or tea towels that never seem to get used? Repurpose them into gift wrap!

4. Tote Bags

Turn those extra totes you never use into cute and unique gift wrap. Prioritize canvas and cloth as those will be the easiest to work with but let your creativity run wild!

5. Pillow Cases/Sheets

Cut up old pillow cases or sheets and you’ll have plenty of material to use for gift wrapping. Keep them as is, pair it with some twine, or let the kids showcase their art skills with some non-toxic paint. 

6. Calendar Pages/Scrap Paper

Does anyone use those big monthly desk calendars anymore? *slowly raises hand* Use the blank side for a recyclable wrapping paper. Get even more crafty and add some artwork, twine, or dried fruit to spice it up.

cars leaving a camp site by the beach with piles of plastic and trash accumulated around no trash cans

Start Now To Make Handmade Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper Later

7. Gift Bags

How old were you when you stopped laughing at your mom for keeping gift bags and started to realize she was onto something? Anytime you’re given a gift bag (and the person doesn’t ask for it back), put it in the box and save it for later.

8. Magazines

 Magazine pages are recyclable! Put that magazine subscription you can’t figure out how you still get to good use. Use fun prints or make a collage for a uniquely wrapped gift. Bonus points for using a theme the recipient loves.

9. Newspaper

Do they still make newspapers? They most certainly do! Check around and see if your office gets a subscription, if someone would donate to your cause, or check out libraries and coffee shops for old issues they’d be willing to part with.

10. Paper Packaging from Online Orders/Shopping

But every time you get an online order, take out that kraft paper (or tissue paper), refold it nicely and tuck it into your gift box. Alternatively, anytime you forget your reusable bag, opt for paper and save it to repurpose later. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up!

11. Boxes from Online Orders

This depends on how much space you have but save as many boxes in a variety of sizes as you can to use at the end of the year. Rip the tape off the old ones, use some kraft tape to fix it up, and voila!

Find Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper At The Store

12. Kraft Paper

If you’re in a rush and need an eco-friendly wrapping paper option right now, head to your local craft store and pick up some kraft paper. It’s completely recyclable and you can jazz it up however you want.

13. Reusable Wrapping Paper

Head over to ZWS and grab your own set of reusable wrapping ‘paper’. These polyester satin and mulberry silk Furoshiki wraps come in three different sizes and each features unique artwork for a stunning presentation.

You can also do a search for local artists in your hometown that make reusable wrapping paper or try searching on Etsy.

Where To Shop For Sustainable Gift Wrap Alternatives

rack of clothing and shoes at a vintage second hand store

Photo by Hugo Clément on Unsplash

Wrapping Paper Isn’t Recyclable

Vintage, junk stores, and secondhand shops are great places to check out for gift wrap inspiration! Things are usually pretty cheap so if you have a lot of wrapping to do, this could be a good place to start. You’ll be able to find:

  • Old magazines
  • Old maps
  • Unique tins/jars (great for baked goods)
  • Tea towels
  • Totes/canvas bags

Grocery/Convenience Store

You never would have thought of it but if you don’t have the creative energy but want to do something nice, head over to your local grocery or convenience store for newspapers, magazines, and local free papers.

Feel free to check out our previous blog for a few more ideas on how to sustainably seal up your package, and some eco-friendly ties and accessories that pull the whole thing together.

The options to DIY eco-friendly wrapping paper are limited only by your imagination. It might feel weird at first, especially in our society that prioritizes convenience over sustainability, but we’ve found that once we mention the reusability and sustainability of it all, most people are on board and even really impressed that you went the extra mile.

With each sustainable step you take forward, you never know who you’ll inspire. But you can be sure that you inspire us everyday to keep our climate optimism high and our sustainable solutions coming.

Until next time!

Written by Lauren Plug, content creator for ZeroWasteStore & Sustainability Enthusiast!

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