Creative Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

Goodlifer: Creative Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

I love buying and wrapping presents for the holidays, but always find myself feeling guilty about the amount of waste that’s generated. However, there are ways to creatively wrap holiday gifts without being wasteful. First, recycle stuff that you have laying around the house. Second, look for companies that create guilt-free wrapping. Here are a few creative tips on eco-friendly ways to wrap your Christmas presents.

Use Old Newspapers
I like to use newspaper to wrap my gifts. I have never tried it for large presents before and, after spending a long time puzzling pieces of the New York Times together, I would recommend using it mainly for smaller gifts. If you want to be really ambitious, try to find pages that say something about what’s inside, maybe giving hints or clues? Take a look at this tutorial by Adelle, on how to make really fancy newspaper flowers to match.

Newspaper-wrapped gift with matching newspaper flower on top. By Adelle.

Newspaper-wrapped gift with matching newspaper flower on top. By Adelle.

Homemade Bows
Bows are an easy way to make a present look great, but instead of using those plastic ones from the store, make your own. See How About Orange’s great tutorial for an easy how-to on bows, as well as Creature Comfort’s easy way to make plastic pompom gift toppers. Only your imagination limits what can be folded into a bow. And if it’s not perfect, who cares? It’s about personality and a bit of disheveledness is cool.

Chicago map bow, by How About Orange.

Chicago map bow, by How About Orange.

Film bow, by undone clothing, Flickr.

Film bow, by undone clothing, Flickr.

Pompom made from plastic bag, by Eco Monster.

Pompom made from plastic bag, by Eco Monster.

Repurpose Household Packaging
Every time it’s time to take out my recycling I marvel at how many boxes a household of two people uses. Why not put some of them to use? An orange juice carton makes an excellent gift box!

Juice box remade into a fun gift box. Photo by Urban Woodswalker, Creative Commons.

Juice box remade into a fun gift box. Photo by Urban Woodswalker, Creative Commons.

Recycle Packaging Materials
I always feel bad throwing away those protective packaging materials that shippers love to stuff boxes full of. I especially love the perforated kraft paper ones, they’re something so stylish about them — I have even seen designers repurpose them as scarves on the runway. Since they’re see-through they’re not ideal for wrapping, but why not use it instead of tissue paper?

Recycled packaging material as tissue paper.

Recycled packaging material as tissue paper.

Furoshiki It
Most of us have a pile of unwanted clothing somewhere. Instead of trying to give it away to friends or schlepping it to the Salvation Army, use it to clothe a present for someone special. Watch this instruction video on Furoshiki, the Japanese art of cloth-folding to make various bags and carry-alls — it works just as well for wrapping presents. Just make sure to not use a piece of clothing the gift recipient has given you.

A variation of traditional Japanese furoshiki wrapping. By penwren, Flickr.

A variation of traditional Japanese furoshiki wrapping. By penwren, Flickr.

Sew It
Instead of putting ribbons around your gifts, sew them up! It’s a surefire way to keep people from peeking into their packages, and wastes a lot less material (use organic thread for green bonus points).

Sewn, not wrapped. By Hilde C., Flickr.

Sewn, not wrapped. By Hilde C., Flickr.

Find a Great Company that Sells Gift Wrap
Snail’s Pace is owned and operated by Saint Meinrad Archabbey, a 150-year-old Benedictine monastic community in southern Indiana. The gorgeous gift wraps and cards are made by skilled Indiana craftspeople at an on-site printing facility called Abbey Press. Besides encouraging us to sit down and take the time to wrap and write Christmas cards, Snail’s Pace is deeply committed to sustainable practices. One thing I particularly love about their wrapping papers is that they have a grid on the back, helping you cut straight and use the sheets more efficiently.

My presents are wrapped using Snail's Pace paper, a Snail's Pace Bag, newspaper and some stray pieces of string found around the house.

My presents are wrapped using Snail's Pace paper, a Snail's Pace Bag, newspaper and some stray pieces of string found around the house.

The grid on the back of Snail's Pace wrapping papers help you cut straigh lines and use the sheets more efficiently.

The grid on the back of Snail's Pace wrapping papers help you cut straigh lines and use the sheets more efficiently.

The company uses only FSC-certified recycled papers and soy-based inks. Most of the paper is produced to be carbon neutral, through the purchase of Verified Emission Reduction credits and Renewable Energy Certificates that support renewable windpower. The packaging also puts the earth first—using plant-based, compostable bags for their cards and recycled boxes, bags, packing materials and tape for shipping. Snail’s Pace offers a wide range of products that are not Christmas related as well, definitely worth a look.

Snail's Pace uses 100% recycled FSC certified paper, soy inks and plant-derived plastics.

Snail's Pace uses 100% recycled FSC certified paper, soy inks and plant-derived plastics.

How do you wrap your holiday gifts? We would love to hear some of your creative eco-friendly wrapping tips!

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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  1. great ideas for everyone to recycle. Think. Be the change.

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