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Have you ever thought about how sustainable or eco-friendly your standard gift-wrapping is?
Would it shock you if I said that some wrapping paper is not even recyclable?
Well, it’s true! Most supermarket bought gift wrap actually contains plastic and other nasty chemicals that are not only bad for the environment but make them more synthetic and more artificial than you first thought.
Wrapping ‘paper’ that has glitter, shiny foil patterns or a glossy finish is non-recyclable. And what’s even worse is that some rolls of wrapping ‘paper’ come wrapped in single use cellophane too, so you’re actually just buying rubbish!
Save money and help cut down on your plastic use by trying these 11 sustainable gift-wrapping ideas instead. They are easy, cheap and most of the materials can be found around your home. Read on to find great gift-wrapping ideas for all occasions.
1. Use what you have
In at number 1, and the easiest of all is to use up all the old gift wrap and spare bags that you already have lying around the house or stuffed in your attic. We’re all guilty of it, especially around gift giving times, buying more just because it’s in the shops. But this is exactly the behaviour that we need to curb if we’re ever going to manage a real change in our consumerism habits. I know I just said it’s full of plastic, but it’s better to use it at least once if you already have it than not at all.
Once you’ve use up what you’ve got then you can get creative. Paper doesn’t have to come on rolls to be gift wrap! Use one of our listed ideas below instead and then read on to see our favourite decorative flourishes to give your gifts that finishing wow factor.
2. Kraft Paper
Brown kraft paper has to be one of my favourite materials to use for sustainable gift-wrapping. Not only is it 100% biodegradable, but it’s also strong, durable and very versatile. You can use it plain or decorate it with stamps, paint or doodles. Or get
the kids to help and make your very own unique and personalised wrapping paper perfect for friends and family.
It goes without saying that paper is paper. So, if you need gift wrap in a hurry then you needn’t look further than your recycling bin. If you have a medium to large sized gift to wrap then a few sheets from last week’s double-page spread could do the trick! Plus, adding decorative elements and final flourishes (as listed below) will make your items gift ready in no time.
4. Magazine Pages
Just like the newspaper sheets mentioned above, old magazine pages can make quite the statement when you’re looking for sustainable gift wrap. Not only will each sheet be unique in it’s colours, photos and prints, but you could also go the extra mile and tie in your gift wrap with the theme of the gift or special hobby of the recipient. Think gardening pages for your allotment loving grandad, tech pages for your computer mad brother or food magazine gift wrap for your foodie friend!
5. Paper bags
When I say paper bags, I don’t mean the shiny, glitter filled gift bags you get in the supermarket. I mean paper bags, like the ones you get in the grocery store to put your apples in! Kraft paper bags come in lots of shapes, sizes and colours now and you can even get food grade bags too if you’re planning on gifting your own baked goodies.
Paper bags are my go-to wrapping for small gifts. They make wrapping strange shaped gifts a breeze and can be spruced up and decorated to give them that extra pretty touch.
Sustainable gift-wrapping doesn’t have to be paper, fabric wrapped gifts are unique, look beautiful and are reusable too. Not to mention, they are totally on trend!
Furoshiki is an old Japanese term that literally translates to “bath (furo) spread (shiki)”. It refers to a square piece of cloth or fabric that was traditionally used to bundle up clothes, food or precious goods ready for transportation. This has now evolved into a new age practice of an environmentally friendly alternative to gift wrap. You can buy specifically made Furoshiki wraps or you can make your own using spare fabric or even by using part of the gift! Got a scarf and perfume for your mum? Then why not use the scarf to wrap the perfume!
Check out our quick how to fold guide here to help you tie your own Furoshiki and learn more about this beautiful tradition.
7. Burlap, jute or fabric bags
Just like paper bags, burlap, jute or fabric bags make great wrapping alternatives, especially for odd-shaped items. Burlap and jute bags are lovely and natural too so would fit well with organic or sustainable gift ideas.
These cute little hessian bags shown opposite are great for small gifts or wedding favours. Find them at VasilinkaStore
They also come in a range of sizes from extra small to extra EXTRA large, so they really are great for all gift types. They are also easily decorated to suit any occasion so keep a few handy for last minute gifting all year round.
8. Boxes, baskets and crates
Boxes, baskets and crates can all be used to create stunning gift giving displays. Reuse cardboard boxes or re-purpose old packaging to create your container, then line it with tissue paper, newspaper or fabric. Think of arranging your gifts inside your container in a pretty hamper style display instead of wrapping them individually.
And don’t forget to dress it up using our list of sustainable decorations listed below.
Now that you’ve nailed the basics, you need to add the finishing touches, and I definitely don’t mean those 90’s plastic bows or curling ribbons!
Give your gifts that extra special touch by adding these simple, sustainable and effective decorative ideas. They are not only cheaper, but they can be so effective while looking natural and beautiful too.
Did I mention I hate plastic?
Well that curling ribbon and those plastic bows have to be one of the worst! Not only are they unnecessary and non-recyclable, but they are a danger to wildlife too. Ditch them straight away (make sure to cut them up into tiny bits before putting them in the bin so that they don’t get tangled around birds or other wildlife) and use these natural alternatives instead.
Twine - make sure to buy natural jute twine as this is environmentally friendly, biodegradable and compostable.
Paper Raffia - I love using paper raffia in my wrapping. It’s not only 100% biodegradable but it also comes in a rainbow of colours so you can add a pop of colour to any of your gift-wrapped goods.
Wool - If you’re a knitter then you’ll know just how much variety there is when it comes to wool. Plus, I bet you have a bag of ‘end bits’ laying around from previous knitting projects.
If you do then these can make pretty ribbon ties on gift wrapping and are a lovely alternative to plastic types. Or you can go a step further and knit a bow instead!
10. Dried flowers & greenery
We’ve ditched the plastic bows but gifts still look pretty with a final decorative flourish added. And that’s where nature comes in.
Try adding pressed flowers or carefully cut sprigs from evergreen shrubs in your garden to the top of your parcels. It not only looks pretty but can be themed to the time of year and type of gift too - roses for Valentine’s Day or Holly for Christmas!
11. Dried fruit, spices and foraged finds
If you don’t have dries flowers to hand then check your spice rack!
Cinnamon sticks, star anise or dried fruit can all be added to decorate gifts too. Or you can bring back foraged finds such as pinecones, twigs or seeds from your nature walk.
Plus, if you use what’s to hand from nature then you will always be in the right season