The holiday season can produce a lot of waste. Sometimes, after opening gifts, the living room looks like a paper-filled war zone. While there are some great alternatives to normal wrapping paper and bows, we should first ask ourselves if wrapping is important to us or our loved one. If you have several eco-minded friends, you could try exchanging gifts without wrapping them. To some people, the wrapped present is an important tradition, and luckily there are some greener opportunities available.

Wrapping paper

Look around you for extra paper that can be used for wrapping. Many of us receive a large amount of sale papers, business advertisements and restaurant menus that could be used as makeshift gift wrapping. There are also some great biodegradable wrapping papers, post-consumer recycled wrapping papers and even plantable wrapping papers. The plantable wrapping paper is biodegradable and has seeds sown into the paper, so once the gift is opened and enjoyed, the wrapping paper can then be planted and enjoyed.


During the holiday season, many retail stores give out boxes (some only if asked) with your purchase. Opt to forego the box. Most items, such as shirts, candles, books, CDs and movies, can be wrapped easily without boxes. Remember: You probably don’t need a box if you’re thinking outside the box!


Using tape to wrap a present may become problematic if you want to recycle your wrapping paper. Instead of tape, try securing your gift wrap with hemp, twine, yarn or a similar material. To be safe, contact your local recycling facility to inquire whether wrapping paper is accepted, and if it is, if it can have tape attached to it and still be recycled. If the eco-friendliness of tape and paper are getting you down, try another wrapping option, such as reusable bags.

Reusable bags

Giving a gift in a reusable bag may inspire the recipient to bring it to the grocery store with him. There are lots of cool reusable bags that are made specifically for produce or sandwiches. These bags could be a perfect way to wrap your gift within another gift. Also, reusing bags from past gifts is a great way to give new life to a bag that otherwise would have made its way to the landfill. Regifting and rebagging doesn’t have to be frowned upon; instead, we should look for ways not only to recycle, but to also reduce and reuse.


A cool alternative to the adhesive nametag is the plantable tag. After your loved once opens his or her gift, the tag can be planted and will grow flowers. Etsy shop Recycled Ideas offers customers handmade plantable paper and cards that will add a personal and waste-free touch to your gift. Recycled Ideas makes the paper by hand from junk mail, and even takes care to minimize packaging and reuse boxes. Etsy and eco-enthusiasts, check out the Team EcoEtsy blog for some other great gifting ideas. 1-800-RECYCLING readers, how are you sustainably wrapping gifts this season?