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  • Jenica Barrett

Eco Alternatives to Wrapping Paper

Updated: Mar 7, 2021

Every year the U.S. spends 8 million dollars on wrapping paper. It makes my head hurt just to think about how much of that ends up in the trash can. Many types of wrapping paper aren't actually paper but actually plastic or at least lined with plastic to create that shiny look.

Because of that, many local recycling facilities don't accept wrapping paper or gift wrapping in their curb-side bins. So before y​ou buy a new roll of plastic gift wrap, consider using some of the following more eco-friendly wrapping paper methods. These zero waste options to wrapping paper are sure to delight the recipient and add a fun flare under your holiday tree!

Decorated paper for wrapping paper

Zero Waste Options to Wrapping Paper


Decorate your own paper!

You can make really beautiful and fun wrapping paper by just taking an over-sized roll of standard paper and decorating it. Fun craft projects can include using fruit and vegetable stamps to paint on designs or drawing on holiday themed quotes. By using standard paper, you guarantee that it is recyclable in the paper bin as well.

Decorating paper can become a beautiful holiday tradition within your family as well. When deciding what to decorating your paper with, avoid adding sparkles, beads, or other plastic trinkets. These items will make the paper not recyclable in your curbside bin.

Paint, pens, pencils, stencils, and vegetable dies are all great things to decorate your paper with! You can also add personal notes by decorating the paper with the recipients favorite animal, favorite quote, or add a funny joke!

Wrapping paper made from poster paper

Wrap using poster paper!

Many craft stores will sell post paper on rolls that you can cut to the size you need. Try purchasing a sheet of red and green poster paper to wrap gifts this year! They make a simple design and are recyclable with standard paper.

Poster paper is also exponentially cheaper than traditional wrapping paper. Saving money on wrapping paper will give you more wiggle room in your holiday shopping budget to purchase more quality sustainable gifts!

Use reusable gift bags!

Gift bags have been around a long time so they make a very familiar wrapping. Make sure though to collect them at the end of the day to save for the next occasion. With a small set of decorative bags, you can get through the whole year without ever needing to recycle or throw out any paper!

Ask around on your Buy Nothing Group or pick up some bags on at your local thrift shop if you don't have reusable bags on hand!

Collect newspaper comics!

If you don't feel like decorating plain paper yourself, newspaper comics make great wrapping - and are fun to read! Since newspapers are already delivered to your house, it is a great way to use up something already headed for the recycling bin.

Make sure the gift inside the package is also zero waste! Here's 50 Zero Waste Gift Ideas for you to consider that anyone will enjoy - whether they're interested in sustainability or not!

Presents wrapped with paper tape

Close with paper tape!

Even though the tape holding the paper together may seem like a small thing, it is still plastic. Instead of using traditional tape, opt for water activated paper tape. The paper tape is completely recyclable so it doesn't add plastic to the recycling stream. Keeping a roll of this kind of tape around the house will help minimize plastic use in many other areas as well!

I prefer to use the paper tape made by EcoEnclose.

And above everything, save what you can! Keeping wrapping paper, tissue paper, and bags for the following year is the best way to reduce your impact. Reuse, reuse, reuse!

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