Low Waste Alternatives to Traditional Wrapping Paper

gift wrapped in plain brown paper

Giving and receiving gifts can be a joyful experience, but the wrapping paper waste it creates can be a bit off-putting. When it’s just one present, it’s easy to simply toss the paper away and move along. But after a holiday, party or shower, the waste is difficult to ignore.

According to Earth911, 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced annually in the US alone. Approximately half of that – 2.3 million pounds – makes its way to landfills. That’s the equivalent of tossing out 10 Boeing 757 airliners each year!

Wrapping paper can’t easily be recycled because it’s a combination of paper fiber and non-paper materials laminated together. This also means that traditional wrapping paper is not biodegradable. The good news is there are many inexpensive and sustainable alternatives to wrapping paper.

Here are a few sustainable wrapping paper alternatives:

Recyclable (Toss these items in your One Big Bin)

  • Newspaper with secured with twine (pro tip: try using the comic section)
  • Paper bags with a piece of nature such as a pine sprig or leaf attached
  • Cardboard boxes tied with decorative string

Reusable

  • Old fabric with a decorative print or interesting color (try tying it in a Japanese Furoshiki style)
  • DIY reusable fabric bags (Don’t sew? Find ready-made ones on online marketplaces such as Etsy!)

Still have some old wrapping paper?

If you still have traditional wrapping paper or gift bags hanging around, use and reuse them as many times as possible before tossing in your One Big Bin.