5 Wrapping Ideas for the Eco-Minded Gift Giver

By Jeanine Behr Getz

The holiday season can be an exciting time of the year, there’s nothing like the thrill of racing (for some of us, sauntering with a cup of coffee) downstairs to the wonderment of perfectly wrapped presents ready to be ripped open and the mysteries inside unveiled.

But all that wrapping paper, those tags, bags and boxes! Oh my!

You maybe wondering, how did all this wrapping get started? Or maybe contemplating making this year the year you boycott wrapping presents? Or are you reading this and saying to yourself, “now they are taking away wrapping presents? Good thing I have 35 half rolls squirreled away in my attic”.

Unnecessary non-recyclable no after-market value waste continues to be a challenge for the USA. In a recent study, it states Americans produce an extra 29 pounds of trash per week from Thanksgiving to New Years Day — with the top 5 biggest holiday sources of waste being wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, food waste, and plastic or boxes from presents and shipping.

Wrapping presents dates back to the 2nd century BC Chinese Song Dynasty when they used paper, and to the Japanese Edo period of furoshiki (using reusable wrapping cloth) and then skip ahead to America in 1917 when “fancy” wrapping paper was first commercialized. By accident, when the Hall brother’s stationary store ran out of their traditional tissue wrapping paper they substituted fancy French envelope lining paper to wrap their customers’ purchases at their “Hallmark” store.

According to a Stanford University study, if every family in the United States just wrapped 3 presents in re-used/reusable materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Here are 5 favorite ideas for making the thrill of opening presents more environmentally mindful this holiday season:

1. Use Fabric to Wrap: The EPA estimates that, in the U.S. alone, over 17 million tons of used textile waste is generated annually.

Feeling crafty?: Look around your home for a scarf, a t-shirt, handkerchief, cloth napkin or a tea towel you no longer use and give it a new life, two gifts in one! No tape, no ribbon, no scissors needed.
DIY fabric gift wrapping idea

Pressed for time?: These are fun pre made reusable Furoshiki fabric wraps by Anthropologie

2. Reuse those shipping boxes: In the US, over 40% of consumers receive at least one Amazon parcel a week.

Feeling crafty?: Grab one or six of your stacked up shipping boxes and some black chalk paint to wow your gift recipients!
DIY shipping gift box idea

Pressed for time?: Next time you order online look for reduced packaging options from vendors. Amazon has a Frustration Free Packaging button. By using this option consumers helped Amazon eliminate more than 900,000 tons of packaging material, the equivalent of 1.6 billion shipping boxes since 2015.

3. Repurpose those old Holiday cards: According to USPS, on average, over 2 billion holiday cards are sent every year. So surely you have a few laying around…

Feeling crafty?: Don’t feel badly about cutting up the cards that came last year, the senders would be thrilled that you found a new use for them!
DIY Holiday card gift tag idea

Pressed for time?: Come on! See above…this takes virtually no time. 😉

4. Finished with the pickle jar? Reuse it, package up a homemade goodie. It has been reported that Americans throw away over 11 million tons of glass bottles and jars each year.

Feeling crafty?: That jam, those pickles and the pureed peas that baby just devoured all come in reusable glass jars. So clean them out and turn them into a mindful vessel for a culinary delight to surprise a friend!
DIY hearty soup idea

Pressed for time?: Simply Good Jars is a delicious gift option and has a wonderful give back program.

5. Still hooked on wrapping paper? It is estimated Americans spend close to 7 billion dollars and produce close to five million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bag waste each holiday season and at least half of that ends up in landfills. So if you must…

Feeling crafty?: First use whatever wrapping paper you have squirreled away, bring out all those the gift and store bags you have received, old maps, magazines, and baskets piled up in the closet and use any and all to create a unique unveiling experience for your family members. For those who had a rough 2020 New Year’s Eve here is a clever wrapping idea.
DIY Lamp Shade idea

Pressed for time?: Ok, well maybe you are just not ready to ditch the wrapping paper, well how about buying better wrapping paper then? There are post consumer wrapping paper options, some of which can be composted and even some that can be recycled (very few though!). Check out these options.

Whether you are feeling crafty or pressed for time this holiday season, your wrapping choices make an impact.
Your thought and presentation both count!
Deliver beautifully wrapped presents, just mindfully.

Happy everything to you and yours!