Americans generate a lot of waste all year round, but the holidays are even worse. Between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, the EPA estimates that 1 million tons of additional waste are created. This means that all the boxes, bags and wrapping paper used during the holidays causes a 25% increase in national waste every year. Giving presents to loved ones is one of the most enjoyable parts of the holidays, and nothing is better than trying to guess what’s hidden under the wrapping. Here are some recycled alternatives to traditional wrapping and packaging that will help you get into the holiday spirit without trashing the planet in the process.
Uncommon Goods' biodegradable wrapping paper

Reclaimed maps

These days, it seems like everyone has a car navigation system or a GPS app on their phone. If you still have a glove compartment full of paper maps, the holidays are a great time to put them to use as recycled wrapping paper. If you don’t have any maps but like the idea of geographical wrapping, you can order MapWrap from Forest Saver Designs.

Fabric gift bags

Reusable shopping bags are all the rage these days, and it only makes sense that we’d replace the traditional paper gift bag with a reusable alternative as well. Wrap Natural offers gift bags and cloths and recycled-paper wraps, you don’t have to wrap wastefully; you can wrap naturally and still have beautiful packages.

Blooming gift wrap

What if recycling and landfilling weren’t the only options for your used gift wrap? With this handmade, biodegradable wrapping paper from Uncommon Goods, you’ll truly be giving a gift that goes on giving long after the holidays are over. The paper is embedded with annual and perennial wildflower seeds, such as catchfly, English snapdragon, cornpoppy and Black-Eyed Susan. All you have to do is add water and soil to grow a lovely flower garden.

Decorative tape

Giving gifts in recycled cardboard boxes or envelopes is fine — there is no need to add an extra layer of wasteful packaging. TapeSwell’s decorative packing tape spruces up these old boxes so that they can be mailed and displayed immediately, avoiding wasteful double wrapping.

Paper products

If you’re just trying to keep friends and family members from sneaking a peek at holiday presents before the big day, any type of large paper product will suffice. Think about using butcher paper, used brown paper bags, newspapers and newspaper comics pages as well.