How To Wrap Gifts In A More Sustainable Way

How To Wrap Gifts In A More Sustainable Way

Wrapping gifts can be half the fun of gift giving. But what happens to all of the wrapping after the gifts have been given? According to Zero Waste Canada, “Canadians send about 540,000 tonnes of gift wrapping and gift bags to the landfill during the holiday season” (source). And it doesn’t end there. A lot of wrapping paper and wrapping products aren’t recyclable, and even if they are, those that are contaminated with things like tape and glitter can’t be recycled (source). 

There are so many great alternatives, it's easier than you think to opt for a more eco-conscious choice. So, here are some ideas:

Remember: Whenever possible, 

  • Try to use what you already have
  • Try to use less 
    • This includes tape! Instead, try to tie gifts closed with some of the ribbon options found below
  • Try to keep and reuse what has been given to you 
    • For example, we keep all of our ribbons, decorations, name tags, tissue paper, gift bags etc. in old shoe boxes and containers throughout the year 
  • Try to find options at thrift stores to give things a second life 


  • Reuse old boxes 
    • Examples: 
      • From online orders which have peaked during the pandemic
      • Boxes that other products were packaged in (e.g. show boxes) 
  • Cleaned out food/takeout containers 
  • Cereal boxes 
  • Thrift reusable boxes 
    • E.g. the tin ones, even the cardboard ones with nice designs can be found at thrift stores 
  • Keep and reuse gift boxes given from previous years 

Wrapping & Bags:

  • Newspaper
  • Scrap paper
  • Reuse packaging paper from online/curbside pick up orders 
    • E.g. the brown packing paper, could even turn it into a craft with the family where you draw designs on it 
  • Use part of the gift 
    • Examples:
      • Clothing: if you are giving someone a scarf or shirt as part of the gift, see if you can wrap the rest of the gift inside of it (many videos on different ways to do this can be found online) 
      • Wrapping a candle/jar/wine glass etc. with a cloth from Ten and Co. 
  • Reusable fabric wrapping 
    • E.g. like those made by Maeberry Goods which are reusable and handmade (small batch production) aimed at reducing time when wrapping and the amount of gift wrapping materials required. Even better, they can be reused for years to come!
  • Make old fabric scraps into fabric wrappings
  • Reuse shopping bags (such as paper ones) 
  • Reuse tissue paper from previous years 
  • Look for eco-friendly options such as 100% recyclable, printed with recyclable dyes and decorations
  • If possible, keep and reuse wrapping paper from previous gifts 
    • Yes, that means I’ve turned into that person that won’t rip the paper 

Name Tags:

  • Keep and reuse gift tags from previous years 
    • E.g. The ones from me to my family members I know I’ll use every year so I keep them
  • Cut the front off of Christmas cards that are mailed to you and use these as name tags
    • Use a hole punch to tie onto the gift more easily  
  • Design and cut out cardboard into name tags 
    • Use a hole punch to tie onto the gift more easily 


  • Keep and reuse decoration from gifts you have been given in previous years 
  • Decorate with natural decorations (which usually make the gift smell nice too): 
    • Examples:
      • Rosemary
      • Pinecones 
      • Leaves
      • Evergreens 
      • Dried oranges 
      • Twigs 
      • Acorns 
      • Dried plants and flowers
    • Note: some items like evergreen twigs will lose their pine needles very quickly indoors, so keep them outside until the day or two before then add them to the gift 


  • Keep and reuse ribbons and bows from gifts you have been given in the past 
  • Upcycle fabric scraps by cutting them into thin pieces to use as ribbon 
  • Look for ribbons made with natural dyes