Eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas

Did you know most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable? Once gifts are open and it’s time to toss the paper, tissue, and bows, most wrapping paper has leftover adornments attached—think tape, pieces of plastic, sticky labels, bows, and ribbons. Sometimes, the paper itself is the wasteful culprit, as shiny paper, glitter, sequins, and textured details also cannot be recycled.

The wastefulness of wrapping paper goes beyond the landfill pile-up. Decorative details like glitter can wash into waterways and be consumed by animals, building up in their stomachs over time. So, if you want to gift someone with something beautifully wrapped, what are you left with? As it turns out, there are many green gift wrapping options—much more than you may think!

Options for eco-friendly wrapping paper go beyond the typical holidays when people go big on store-bought wrapping paper. Aside from the traditional Christmas wrapping paper and birthday wrapping paper, there are plenty of other creative ways to wrap a gift that are beautiful, easy, and affordable.

Eco-gift wrapping for Mother’s Day

If you want to be eco-friendly and impress Mom at the same time, Furoshiki is the way to go. A traditional Japanese wrapping technique using fabric (often with a decorative pattern) to transport goods, Furoshiki has become an increasingly popular way of wrapping gifts. We suggest using something like doubles as a bonus gift, like a silk scarf. You can tie-dye your own or buy one from a vintage or resale shop.

Wildwood Mother's Day by Rifle Paper Co. for Paperless Post | Wildwood Silk Scarf by Rifle Paper Co.

Wildwood Mother’s Day by Rifle Paper Co. for Paperless Post | Wildwood Silk Scarf by Rifle Paper Co.

If it looks complicated, trust us—it isn’t! 

Start by placing the item in the middle of a square piece of fabric as shown here by Marie Kondo. Tie two diagonal ends together, like the first step of tying your shoelaces, tightly over the gift. 

Next, tie the other two diagonal ends together over the first.

Tie the last corners a second time to ensure the wrapping is tight and secure.

Eco gift wrapping for baby showers

A great wrapping paper alternative for baby showers that new moms can re-use: a linen swaddle to wrap baby and children’s books (or anything else you’d like to gift the parents to be). 

Or if you’re looking for another way of going green, baby showers have the unique benefit of being an acceptable occasion to re-gift. Especially when babies outgrow everything so quickly, you and the new parents will both be happy to get more use out of something practical and loved.

Eco-gift wrapping for adult birthdays 

Stack of eco-friendly wrapped gifts on a beige background.

Aside from reusing wrapping paper or gift bags, you can go the more creative, personalized route by choosing one of these many wrapping paper alternatives. If you ask us, some of these are chic ways of making your gift feel more thoughtful:

Stack of eco-friendly wrapped gifts on a beige backgroundMarbled paper 

Old maps

Magazines

Newspapers

Dyed fabric using avocado or other natural dyes

Matte black paper + chalk pens

Eco-gift wrapping for kids’ birthdays

Include your child on the creativity behind wrapping another child’s gift. Use plain paper, a deconstructed paper bag, or butcher’s paper you already have, letting your little one add their own artwork with markers or crayons for a very personal finishing touch. Another way to dress up simple paper: washi tape and fun stickers.

Stack of eco-friendly wrapped gifts on a beige background.

We’re also big fans of stone gift wrap from our friends at Paper Source. Stone paper is non-toxic, biodegradable and completely tree-free, so no trees were harmed in its making.  According to Paper Source, it’s also “water-resistant, recyclable, reusable, and it cuts like butter!”

Skip wrapping all together

That’s right—you don’t have to wrap every gift you give. Some gifts, like potted plants as housewarming gifts, don’t need to hide behind wasteful wrapping paper (and it would be pretty hard to try). Also, if you have a ribbon lying around, a simple bow is sometimes all you need. If you do insist on wrapping, go for a gift bag you received that can be passed on and reused. Or, much like our scarf idea for Mother’s Day, transport your gifts inside something that doubles as a bonus gift, like a tote bag with a cool design or one from their favorite store or museum.

Left: Mini planters with succulents. Right: Growing (Blanca Gómez) by Red Cap Cards for Paperless Post

Growing (Blanca Gómez) by Red Cap Cards for Paperless Post

Eco-friendly party ideas and more

Where there are gifts, there is often a party. If you’re committed to limiting your environmental impact, there are many ways you can plan or host a party that does just that. From sustainable party supplies and decor to serving utensils, we can get you started with some eco ideas for parties, including eco ideas for weddings. The first step is to send the invitation, and it’s no surprise that skipping the paper invite and envelope in favor of online party invitations is the more efficient, sustainable alternative. Plus, we’ll help you customize your digital invitation and track your RSVPs. Turns out planning an eco-friendly party isn’t as tricky as you may think.

Left: Burger Beer by The Indigo Bunting for Paperless Post. Right: Exuberance by Schumacher for Paperless Post

Burger Beer by The Indigo Bunting for Paperless Post | Exuberance by Schumacher for Paperless Post