Top 10 Green Gift Wrap Ideas

‘Tis the season for living rooms around the country to be covered in a sea of crumpled paper and tossed-aside bows. Yup, wrapping paper from holiday gifts is largely to blame for a 25 percent spike in curbside trash volume between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the EPA. (And if Grandpa’s just tossing everything into the fireplace, that’s even more harmful. Many inks and foils contain chemicals that are toxic when burned.)

What is the eco-minded gift-giver to do? Here are 10 ways to give a thoughtfully wrapped present and give back to the Earth, too.

1. Eco-shiniest

Say “silver bells” without leaving a metallic taste in your mouth. A different twist on recycled paper, recycled aluminum foil adds shiny happiness and closes the loop on recycling. Tie on some colorful raffia or hemp twine or this beguiling recycled silk sari yarn to up the festive factor.

2. Most re-useful

Reusable gift bags or shopping bags make an ingenious alternative to gift wrap, and these days they come in all manner of styles, from basic to uber-green to glam. This recycled juice pack tote might be an even bigger hit than the gift inside!

Lyzi Gift Bags

If you’re a whiz with your Singer, whip up your own cloth tote bags or gift bags. Not so much? Check out these luminous drawstring gift sleeves by Lyziwraps, named after founder Jocelyn Childs' daughter, who designed a prototype for her eighth grade “Innovation” competition a few years ago.

3. Best “direction”

Let surplus maps lead the way to sustainable wrapping. These reclaimed New York City subway maps and topographical maps give your package a hip design. Not to mention, they’re educational.

4. Best basket

market basketWhen a gift bag just won't do, try a gift basket! With the beautiful colors of our Market Basket, woven by fair-trade workers in Ghana, you won't need any additional wrapping. After the gift-giving is over, your loved one can use it to store things in their home, or to take to the farmers' market!

5. Most appreciated

Make the wrapping part of the gift! Containers make great no-wrapping-needed packaging: A bucket or watering can is easy to fill with gardening supplies, and a mixing bowl or stockpot makes the perfect package for your favorite cook. And don’t forget soft wrapping paper alternatives that are also great gifts, like scarves, organic cotton baby blankets, beach towels or organic cotton bath towels from Gaiam. It’ll give them a little hint as to what's inside, but your creative wrapping will get years of use.

6. Most resourceful

Banana fiber paper turns wasted bark from banana production into a decorative eco-wrapping option. Or opt for tree-less sources of paper, such as 100% recycled paper printed with soy-based inks.

7. Closest to nature

Some of the best decorations for your gifts can be found in backyards, beaches and fields. Sprigs of berries, branches, shells and pinecones are naturally beautiful and don’t require any manufacturing at all … just a short hike. (Check with authorities before taking pinecones or other specimens from state or national forests or parks.) Or try paper that's embedded with wildflower seeds — Instead of tossing or recycling it after gifts are opened, just plant it in your garden! There’s no waste … just beautiful blossoms that make this wrapping paper a gift in itself.

8. Recycling-friendliest

Avoid sticky situations at your recycling facility by wrapping your gifts without conventional — often petroleum-based — tape. Not all curbside programs accept wrapping paper. But if yours does, it should be tape-free. Try opting out of tape by making tightly creased folds as you wrap, securing it by tying up the package tightly (in two directions) with natural twine or wool yarn that can be reused.

9. Most frugal

Why spend a dime on wrapping when you already have what you need? Newspaper might have a reputation for saying “cheapskate,” so get a little creative. Use anything from paper bags to leftover wallpaper, and cut out images from magazines, comics, children’s drawings or old greeting cards to give your package an artistic flair.

10. Most interactive

If necessity is the mother of invention, competition is the sister of connection! Challenge your family to a little friendly competition — come up with the most inventive, resourceful, brilliant wrapping paper alternative using natural, reusable, recycled or repurposed raw materials. Then before present-opening commences, take a vote on the best idea. Award the winner a white-elephant gift — an extra pecan pie to take home, a spa massage, a restaurant gift card. Use your imagination! The experience will add to the great memories you create together this holiday.



Want more info on green wrap and gifts? Check out:

Furoshiki Japanese Wrapping and fwrap (pronounced, frap, which is shorthand for “fabric wrap”) made from recycled materials on Gift Wrap the Eco Way at the Alternative Consumer.

Gaiam’s full list of green gifting ideas.’s library of sustainability videos.


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kaye's picture
User offline. Last seen 8 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/17/2007

great ideas, i use them all! here are a few more:
instead of plain newspaper, the funnies/comics make a great wrapping paper, especially for kids or the young at heart.
reuse tote-like shopping bags and gift bags by covering the logo with your own art, or paper that says "happy birthday" or whatever the occasion.
i also use the shreds from our home office paper shredder as filler in packaging. it is festive looking and eco friendly! happy holidays!

Luckychien's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 36 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 11/16/2006

After one Christmas about 10 years ago, my mom was horrified about the amount of wrapping paper we were throwing away. She made gift bags -- drawstring bags of various sizes with Christmas fabric (bought at the post-holiday sales) and fabric scraps she already had. Some of the bags are nonseasonal so we use them year round. We also repurpose bags and containers such burlap bags from rice, a fabric bag that pjs or sheets came in, etc. for gift bags. We still have some wrapping paper at the end of the holiday but nothing like we used to.

KZ's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 35 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 11/19/2008

I save artwork, esp. larger finger paintings, from my kids. They make terrific, colorful wrapping that family and friends love to receive.

kakucis's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 years 9 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 05/03/2010

Avoid sticky situations at your recycling facility by wrapping your gifts without conventional - often petroleum-based - tape. Not all curbside programs accept wrapping paper. But if yours does, it should be tape-free. Try opting out of tape by making tightly creased folds as you wrap, securing it by tying up the package tightly (in two directions) with natural twine or wool yarn that can be reused.

mastermo411's picture
User offline. Last seen 5 years 47 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 08/26/2010

Great Post! I consider myself a bad gift giver. One of the things I like to do is try to confuse people about what they're getting for their gift. I saw this idea about fake gift wrap. here's a link - Does anything like this exist? I'd appreciate any info or ideas you can give me. Thanks!

ewrapz's picture
User offline. Last seen 5 years 37 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 11/05/2010

Great tips! It is so important to reduce all of the waste that is associated with something as wonderful as gift giving! I am so passionate about "greening" the gifting process that I started my own little eco-gift wrap company last year. eWrapz ( is reusable fabric gift wrap that is stylish and easy to use. Just another option for making gift wrapping more eco-friendly!

albertjisan's picture
User offline. Last seen 4 years 10 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 05/15/2012

Really top 10 Green Gift Wrap Ideas are awesome and simply I'm satisfied through knowing about it . Thanks dude. :)

weddingdecor's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 years 17 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 03/25/2013

Wrapping is an art, and the more creative you can get, the better. Have fun with it! The best gift wrapping ideas, after all, are the ideas that you come up with on your own.

johnsmithsmuels's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 years 7 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 06/06/2013

One thing will determine the success of your small business more then all other things combined and that is your small business marketing strategy. Before small business marketing consultant your product, service, quality, warranty even have a chance at making a difference your marketing must bring ready willing and able buyers to your door.

alisson's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 year 36 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 11/14/2014

Glad that there are many people starting to adopt the use of eco-friendly products, such as this wraps and those ec-bags, which is really the simple way we need to do to at least help the nature. This is our part on this earth.

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