Day 3: Gift Wrapping


Did you know that over 50% of all paper in America is used to wrap or decorate products? According to, that adds up to 4 million tons of discarded gift wrap and bags going into landfill each year!




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But is wrapping paper really that harmful? It’s paper. So, that’s recyclable, right?

Ehh, sometimes. Traditional wrapping paper might be recyclable, but these days, wrapping paper comes in plastic, foil, or coated with glitter — making it not recyclable in most cities.

So what do you do if you already have this kind of wrapping paper? Try to reuse it! If you can avoid using tape (tips on this below) unwrapping presents shouldn’t rip the paper, and kids won’t know (or care) that the paper is re-used from last year. You know, as long as you can teach a little impulse control, which I admit is hard, even in your thirties.

Alternatives to Wrapping Paper:

Reuse and Jazz Up

If you received something in a nice plain box, why not reuse it? Add a little flavor with some colored jute or cotton twine, or anything made of natural materials. Reuse ribbons and bows, there’s no need for these items to go to waste!

Cotton and Twine


Wrap your packages with fabric instead of paper! If you have some awesome fabrics on hand, great! Otherwise, check out your local thrift store to avoid buying new materials.

Natural Jute Burlap and Twine


If natural jute burlap is more accessible, use it! It works just as well and looks very classy when spruced up with a nice flower or sprig of rosemary.

Who gives a crap? WE DO!

Who Gives a Crap brand toilet paper is packaged in adorable, even beautiful, paper patterns. Why let them go to waste? Reuse them to wrap stocking stuffers or other small gifts!


Who Gives a Crap toilet paper wrappers to wrap gifts
Source: Reddit

Furoshiki Gift Wrap



Using colorful fabric to wrap gifts doesn’t have to require sewing, or even twine! Try the Furoshiki gift wrap method with a step-by-step guide from Remember, if you don’t have these fabrics already, try to buy them second hand before purchasing new materials. The goal is to reuse!

DIY Gift Bags


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Instead of buying gift bags from the store, why not make some out of materials you already have? You can also check out second hand stores for holiday themed fabrics. These bags are super easy to make and really pop! For a step-by-step guide, check out the

However, if ripping wrapping paper is a must in your house, here are some solutions to commercial wrapping paper:


Yes, post consumer-recycled packing paper looks really nice. But I’ve only ever found rolls of it wrapped in thin plastic film. So, if you have a plastic-free packing paper roll hook up, please let us know.

But in the meantime, there are still plenty of paper-y materials that can be reused as wrapping paper. For example, newspaper, an old map, or even an inside out paper bag (see video at bottom of page) can work. Don’t think it’ll look nice? Well, check these out:

Maps, Newspaper, and Paper Bags:


Remember that Rand McNally map from that 1997 road trip? Me neither. Use it. Got some old brochures stuffed away? Use it. Newspaper? Absolutely. Old crossword puzzle papers or word searches? Why not? Heavens to Betsy, look how cute that paper bag above is, and it’s just a paper bag.

As you can also see, using these paper materials also make great upcycled gift tags!



Let Nature decorate:


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If you’re lucky enough to have access to some pine trees, let nature do the designing. Using natural Raffia twine, post-consumer recycled package paper, and a pine tree cutting, this is a truly gorgeous present! Check out for instructions!

You can also decorate with dried or fresh flowers


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Dried spiced orange slices


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The options are limitless. You can even decorate with cookies, fresh or dried herbs, candy, the list goes on and on..

More inspiration:

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How To Wrap WITHOUT tape!

Level: Easy

Level: Pro

But if you do have to use tape, try to use compostable paper tape!


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