Did you know that every year it is estimated that the US disposes of over 4 tons of wrapping paper?
That's right, according to a report from Sundale Research, it is estimated that the United States spent approximately $12.7 billion on gift wrapping alone in 2017. The vast majority of gift wrapping material is single use, which means that millions of pounds of waste are added to landfills each year. To add to this problem, many types of wrapping paper can't be recycled since it's lined with plastic or other non-recyclable materials. For instance those that are laminated and contain non-paper additions such as gold or silver foil and glitter are considered recycling contamination as they can't be separated from the paper pulp itself.
In an effort to cut down on our wrapping waste this Holiday season, we've compiled a list of some of our favorite low or no-waste gift wrapping alternatives.
1 - Upcycled Paper
Here at Ren Market one of our favorite ways to wrap items is with upcycled brown or cream paper that we receive as packing in many of our orders. You could also use paper grocery bags or even stop by your local newspaper to pick up a roll of their offcut newsprint paper. Pro tip: you can even use the most wrinkled pieces by actually crumpling the even more before smoothing them out and using them to wrap your item. The multitude of crinkles actually gives a super cool three dimensional effect that’s super fun.
We’re big fans of the fresh rosemary sprigs and dried oranges on these presents by FairyLife and Company. Don’t shy away from using fake foliage that you may have laying around the house as a present topper; after all, the longer we can use the plastic items we already have before they have to be disposed of or recycled, the smaller its carbon footprint becomes.
2 - Furoshiki
This is perhaps one of the oldest methods of gift wrapping as it dates back thousands of years! Furoshiki was originally a method of wrapping precious temple objects to protect them, and has been used for many years as a way of transporting items. However more recently furoshiki has garnered attention as an environmentally friendly alternative to single use gift wrapping. For a tutorial on how to do several types of furoshiki wraps, check out this
pdf from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.
3 - Newspaper Wrap
For the daily news reader in your life, save old editions and use them as a fantastic alternative to traditional wrapping paper. Opt for all text for a more monochromatic look or have fun and use the comic section for a cheery alternative. Tie the packages off with a bit of twine or ribbon for a final touch. We love the hint of fresh greenery on this package from Pebble Magazine.
4 - Fabric Scraps
While this is essentially the same idea as Furoshiki, we thought it was important to highlight that you could reuse any old fabric as a wrapping alternative.
For example, Boxwood Clippings uses an old sweater to make this adorable present. Check out their website to see how they used the cuff of one of the sweaters as a ribbon keep the lid on a cute cardboard box.
We also really love the look of this linen fabric wrapped in twine with lots of gorgeous fresh greenery. No need to raid your florist shop here either if you don't want to, just trim a few branches of your Christmas tree. You could also go for a foraging walk and keep an eye out for some red willow branches, pussy willow, cedar bows, or even grasses that catch your eye!
5 - DIY Paper Bags
Have an item that is so oddly shaped it would require two engineers, a contractor, and an origami artist just to get it wrapped nicely? Check out these two awesome tutorials on how to make your own paper bags!
6 - Map Gift Wrapping
Do you have an old atlas or road map hanging out in your glove compartment (or Jockey Box, as we call them in Montana)? Pull that baby out and use it to wrap up your Dad’s Christmas gift this year.
We think this idea is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. Bonus points if you can center a cherished landmark or city on the top of the present!
Map wrap combo by Midwest Living
7 - Toilet Paper Roll Gift Boxes
Start saving your toilet paper rolls, friends. This genius idea is brought to you by Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth, and we couldn't be more impressed.
These ridiculously easy gift boxes are great for small stocking stuffers and other hard to wrap items like lip balm, earrings, and much more! For larger or longer items, simply use a paper towel roll and cut it down to your desired size.
This is also a great idea for getting your kiddos involved in gift wrapping this year. What better way to wrap a teacher appreciation gift than in a box personalized by their students!?
8 - A Little Bit of Everything
Can't decide on your new favorite method of low waste wrapping? Why choose?! Gather up all your bits and pieces of paper and craft supplies and get creative! This is perfect for all you makers out there who just can't let go of your leftover bits of material.
The genius of this idea from Vanessa Spencer is that the more random the assemblage of scraps, the more unique the gift becomes. We love the addition of old tags, library cards, and shreds of ribbon. This could also be a super cool way to personalize the wrapping to whoever your giving the gift to!