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Green Christmas Wrapping Options For Ecofriendly Gift Wrapping

Updated on August 24, 2015

The amount of paper that is wasted each year on disposable wrapping paper each Christmas Season is incredible. In the UK alone, enough paper is tossed out each Boxing Day to cover over 85 square kilometres. Much of these wrappings are made from virgin paper printed up with toxic dyes and inks. Even when recycled, this paper represents a tremendous amount of waste and energy that could easily be saved.

Half of the paper America consumes each year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. (Source: The Recycler's Handbook, 1990)

Add to this all the bows and ribbons that could be reused each year, and there is tremendous potential to green up your holidays and save money. If everyone in the US traded in their usual wrapping paper for more environmentally friendly alternatives on just three gifts per year, it is estimated that nearly 50,000 trees could be spared.

Eliminating the Need for Wrappings

Many gifts don't even require wrapping to make them special. A new bicycle, for instance, doesn't really need to be wrapped up. Most large items are just as presentable with a nice bow or nothing at all when placed near the Christmas tree.

Many other smaller items need no wrapping at all, such as gift cards, personal IOU coupons and other things that are best wrapped in decorative envelopes. One alternative to using store-bought supplies is to use gathered greenery instead of bows or string rather than tape. Holly, ivy and mistletoe as a bow can then be used as a home decoration.

fabric Christmas wrapping

Alternative Wrappings

While some people may miss the tearing of paper on Christmas morning, there are plenty of decorative and ecologically friendly ways to package your gift. Sometimes gifts don't even have to be things. Charitable donations made in the recipient's name are also a popular way of spreading the joy around without cluttering up the house with more stuff.

Not all wrappings have to be made out of paper, either. You can use fabric in the form of a scarf or decorative textile to cover your gift. One popular type of wrapping is the cloth that normally serves as both a bento box wrapping and a napkin/picnic blanket in Japan, called a furoshiki. You can make your own Christmas bags from recycled bits of fabric or old clothes. Even old plastic bags can be fashioned into surprisingly attractive bows.

Fabric Bags for Green Christmas Wrapping (but cheap after Christmas and make for Next Year, saving money!)

Making Your Own Christmas Wrapping Paper

Just because people have become accustomed to purchasing special wrapping paper in the shops doesn't mean you can't make your own. Most people have all sorts of interesting scrap paper that can be turned into wonderful, recycled wrapping paper. Old maps, posters, calendars, sewing patterns, newspapers, comics and other scraps can be folded and doctored up to make them look wonderful.

You can also decorate your own paper by simply using the back side of old paper sacks or butcher paper and some paint. You can make stamps out of potatoes, draw or paint a special and unique design on such paper yourself. This is an especially good option if you need to give the kids something to do while you finish up all your Holiday chores.

Green Wrapping for A Green Christmas

Recycled Christmas Wrapping Products

You can still purchase extravagant Holiday wrappings and enjoy the thrill of tearing up the paper with only a fraction of the environmental costs. There are now plenty of recycled paper options to choose from, many companies are now producing these Holiday wrapping paper from soy-based inks and 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper. You can make your own recycled paper by saving your old paper from year to year or finding vintage papers in thrift stores and re-sale shops.

Boxes and bows can also be made from recycled products. Old ribbons and bows can last for years with some care. Decorative shoe-laces and bits of scrap fabric also make wonderful ribbons. Other ribbon replacements include strings of old Christmas lights, vines and carefully curled bits of old magnetic tape.

You can even make your own boxes from the backside of old cereal boxes and clean take-out containers. You can even choose to avoid wrapping altogether and use recycled Christmas tins and baskets to create your own home-made gifts. Both items are routinely found in second-hand shops for next to nothing.


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    • profile image

      Mario 4 years ago

      Darn those odd-shaped gifts! My favorite part of gift wpanpirg is the embellishing, anyway.I read on someone's blog that stores should start making their bags like gift wrap, so you can buy a gift, carry it out, and wrap away! Whether intentional or not, love that you did this with an Urban Outfitters bag.

    • Barbara Stickly profile image

      Barbara Stickly 5 years ago

      Wow. 1/2 the paper in the US for wrapping? One year my kids and I decorated gift bags with sparkly pens. Some of those bags are still being used several years later to exchange gifts among our friends. They go out and come back year to year!

    • profile image

      Kathy de Jong 8 years ago

      Take a look at Ecorations stylish, chic fabric gift wraps and bags. They are top quality bags that will become part of the "fabric" of your family traditions. Ecorations now offers a 100% organic cotton Santa Sack. Great for the kids at Christmas.