Eco Gift Ideas

A Guide To Zero Waste Gift Wrapping

Alternative Gift Wrapping Methods To Minimize Holiday Waste

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In the United States alone, billions of dollars are spent on wrapping paper each year—and unfortunately, the majority of it is not recyclable, especially the variety that contains specs of glitter, foil and other embellishments.

But the good news is that zero-waste wrapping methods are becoming increasingly popular, and more people are gravitating toward eco-friendly alternatives to minimize holiday waste.

Below are several zero-waste gift wrapping techniques that blow traditional gift wrap methods out of the water. In addition to being environmentally friendly, the end results are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and show thoughtfulness on your part.

Music: Have yourself a merry little christmas
Musician: Rook1e
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Zero Waste Gift Wrap Material

Furoshiki Fabric

Furoshiki is the art of Japanese wrapping using traditional Furoshiki cloth, which is made out of various materials such as silk, rayon, cotton, nylon and other fabrics. Furoshiki cloth also has hemmed edges to prevent fraying and can cover any shape from boxes to cylinders and more!

Furoshiki is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional gift wrapping paper, and is one of the best ways to wrap a gift because Furoshiki cloth is beautiful and can be reused and repurposed into many items such as: a table cloth, a handbag, a shawl, scarf and more.

If purchasing a Furoshiki cloth is not in your budget this year, you can sew your own Furoshiki wrap using fabric from the store or using an old bed sheet. Repurposing an old baby muslin blanket for Furoshiki works wonders as well!

Shop Furoshiki Cloth On Amazon

Shop Books On Furoshiki Wrapping Tutorials

Brown Kraft Paper

Another eco-friendly alternative to traditional gift wrapping paper is brown kraft paper, which is not only extremeley durable, but also 100% biodegradable and can be recycled up to seven times—no wonder kraft means ”strength” in German!

Gifts wrapped in brown kraft paper look absolutely elegant and the solid color pairs incredibly well with “garnish” such as pine cones, small pine tree branches, dried fruit, and other dried plants that are secured in place with some twine—resulting in an all-natural and organic presentation.

You can buy large rolls of brown kraft paper in stores and online, or, you can repurpose some grocery store paper bags and use them as gift wrap as they too are made from brown kraft paper!

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Burlap Fabric

Burlap is a biodegradable fabric that is woven from the fibers of a jute plant. And just like bamboo, jute requires little to virtually no intervention in order to grow and replenish—which makes burlap a 100% sustainable and eco-friendly fabric.

Just like brown kraft paper, burlap looks incredibly elegant when used as a zero-waste gift wrapping alternative. you can likewise garnish this fabric with some rustic accessories such as pine tree branches, pine cones and cinnamon sticks for some rustic charm.

Burlap has many uses after it serves its purpose as gift wrap. It can be reused by the gift recipient as gift wrap for someone else later on, or it can be repurposed in the garden as a covering to protect plants from frost.

Shop Burlap On Amazon

Cookie Tin

Cookie tins are one my favorite zero waste gift wrap methods because just like furoshiki cloth and burlap, they serve a purpose beyond gift giving. And just like brown kraft paper, they are recyclable.

Cookie tins aren’t limited to just cookies and other food(s). This eco-friendly gift wrap method can hold a charming presentation of socks, beauty products and really anything else that can fit. And just like fabric, can be garnished with some twine and dried plants or flowers.

Cookie tins can be reused as pantry containers—used to store items like rice, beans and mom’s secret candy stash. You can find some nice and inexpensive tins at your local dollar store or buy in bulk online.

Shop Tins On Amazon

Cardboard Shipping Boxes

Yet another eco-friendly gift wrap method is to use old shipping boxes that you collect throughout the year. Shipping boxes are made from cardboard, which is both recyclable and compostable, so the next time you receive a package, break the box down and keep it someplace like the garage, until it’s time to use it for gifts.

Shipping boxes can be cleaned up a bit by removing labels and securing the contents with twine. You can even ”double bag” by wrapping over it with burlap or brown kraft paper—especially if it looks beaten up.

And don’t forget about the fact that you can get free shipping boxes to use for your gifts from the post office! You can pick some up in person or request to have some dropped off at your residence by going online!

Maps, Newspaper & Magazines

Credit: @erinvfdesign |TikTok

Maps, newspaper and magazine pages are excellent eco-friendly wrapping material because they’re all recyclable and biodegradable—plus, it makes your gift look unique. This is especially a good solid ecofriendly alternative if you are on a tight budget.

You can acquire much of this reading material for free. Places like nursing homes, medical facilities, libraries and schools often subscribe to newspapers and magazines, which tends to stack up over a period of time, and these facilities dispose of them. You can contact these places and ask if you can take it instead!

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Eco-Friendly Tying Material & Garnish

When it comes securing gift wrap, tape isn’t always necessary, and a wonderful eco-friendly alternative to ribbons and tape is to use twine, which is a thin compostable rope made from various organic material such as plant fibers (hemp, cotton, etc) and sometimes even animal hair.

Shop For Twine Rope On Amazon

Tying With Twine Rope

When it comes to zero waste gift wrap, you certainly do not have to add any accessories to your wrapping other than twine, but if you want to give your gift that rustic holiday feel, you can certainly add some natural items like dried fruit, pine cones, cinnamon sticks, pine branches and many more earthy items.

The best thing about this natural and biodegradable garnish is that you can go out into your neighborhood park and forage for free. Foraging is a great way to acquire free gift wrap accessories!

DIY Dried Oranges


If you’d like to make your own dried oranges, simply slice an orange into thin pieces and lay out on a tray (or parchment paper), blot excess juice with a paper towel, and leave them in the oven for 2-3 hours in 250 degree temperature. They make very elegant gift wrap decor.

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