That wrapping paper printed with kittens in Santa hats is adorable, but not always the most earth-friendly choice.
Every year, Americans toss 25 million tons of extra garbage over the holiday season compared to the rest of the year. It’s not difficult to pinpoint the biggest culprit: all the gift wrap, tissue paper, and plastic frills we use to make presents extra festive. All that extra waste ending up in landfills is one holiday habit worth breaking.
There was a time—before we got wiser and invested in reusable tote bags—when the majority of groceries were hauled home in brown bags. Let’s be real, we still occasionally request paper when we’ve forgotten our totes at home. And they're ideal for wrapping: Cut along the seams to get a flat canvas, blank side out, and voila. Brown paper wrapping looks so earthy and cool. To add an even more rustic vibe, twist and tie up the ends with twine—no tape necessary.
Everyone could use another reusable tote—keeping extras in the car minimizes those awkward moments of showing up bagless at the checkout counter, right? So, use totes as gift bags that the recipient can reuse over and over again. (That’s double presents for them, which can only make you more popular!)
Got a stack of National Geographics or Vogues eating up space on the bookshelf? Turn the pages full of breathtaking imagery into gorgeous wrapping paper. Get creative and tape or glue several pages together to create gift wrap that tells a story.
Black-and-white newsprint has such a classic look. Wrap a present in recycled newspaper and tie it up with black ribbon to keep the look monochrome.
Pretty soon, the calendar on the wall is going to be obsolete, so go ahead and put it to good use. If you’ve managed to stockpile old calendars, then all the better for some vintage vibes.
Recycled aluminum foil
If you’re a fan of metallic papers, skip the mass-produced rolls and opt for recycled aluminum foil. Easy, festive—and green.
Wrapping gifts in cloth is actually an old Japanese art form called furoshiki. Comb the thrift store for vintage fabrics the recipient can reuse for other presents or upcycle into decorative tapestries.
Good things come in small packages, and tiny glass jars that used to hold baby food or condiments are a charming way to gift little things, like jewelry. Remove the label and thoroughly wash the jar. To personalize the package and obscure the contents, glue recycled paper—blank, or personalized with a note or drawing—around the outside.
When you box up a gift, what’s the purpose of wrapping it with additional paper? Really it’s just an impulse, and an unnecessary one at that. Keep things simple with a white box tied up with twine.
Thrive Market packaging
We know—our Thrive boxes come pretty heavily packaged (all in materials made from recycled paper, of course). That’s because we want to give a little extra love to protect your goods. But the great news is, our box stuffers can be reused for gift-wrapping purposes. Stock up on the packaging from your Thrive orders, and you may never have to buy wrapping paper again.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho