Desk organizers from dried fruit bags - Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Gift Wrapping from Recycled Materials

Many people wrap gifts in brown paper bags or fabric, but that is only the start of ways you can wrap gifts without creating trash. In this episode, we’ll talk about:

  • Furoshiki, or Japanese wrapping cloths, and other fabric wrapping options
  • Gift bags from flexible food packaging
  • Gift boxes from recycled holiday cards, toilet paper rolls or clamshell containers
  • Reusable gift tags and bows from recycled materials

You can listen to the podcast episode about gift wrapping from recycled materials in this YouTube video. It originally aired in November 2018.

There are many benefits to switching from wrapping paper to alternatives. You can:

  • Save money – Americans spend more than $7 billion on wrapping paper each year.
  • Avoid frustration – Putting a gift in a reusable gift bag takes less time and coordination that wrapping with scissors and tape. Also, fabric bags usually work better when wrapping gifts with an unusual shape.
  • Help the environment – If every American family wrapped 3 presents in reusable materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Many types of paper gift wrapping are recyclable by municipal recycling programs except the kinds with foil or glitter. But plastic tape is not recyclable. Tissue paper is challenging because it is often made from already-recycled paper and has shorter fibers.

Even though many municipal recycling programs take wrapping paper, it is filled with ink. Many inks are not made from sustainable ingredients. Removing the ink requires chemicals to prepare the fibers for reuse. So avoiding wrapping paper is a good decision for the environment.

Of course overall, it’s best to give fewer material gifts and instead give gifts that are experiences. But for those items you want to wrap, this is the podcast episode to inspire you!

Furoshiki and Other Fabric Gift Wrapping Options

Tutorial by the Japanese Environmental Ministry that shows how to tie furoshiki in step-by-step graphics to fit different shapes and sizes of gifts

Drawstring gift bag tutorial similar to what I have made before

Fabric gift bag from the sleeve of a dress shirt

Buying Fabric Gift Bags

If you don’t want to sew your own reusable fabric gift bags, many crafters and small businesses make them. Search with the term “reusable gift wrap” or “bento bag” on Etsy. Unfortunately, most do not seem to use recycled fabrics.

The company Enfold located in Michigan offers two kinds of sustainable fabric gift bags. They offer gift bags from recycled saris by women who used to work in the sex trade in India. They also sell wraps made from organic cotton.

Wrag Wrap in the UK makes their gift bags from polyester made from recycled plastic bottles. They sell a reusable gift wrap called Crackle Wrap which contains a crinkly inner layer that crackles as the gift is unwrapped.

Gift Bags from Flexible Food Packaging

Check out the Trashmagination podcast episode all about flexible food packaging.

Gift Boxes from Recycled Materials

Gift box from a recycled toilet paper roll

Triangular gift boxes from recycled holiday cards

Gift boxes made from recycled orange juice cartons

Gift boxes from recycled plastic clamshell packaging / berry baskets

Gift Tags from Recycled Materials

Postcardigans in North Carolina makes reusable gift tags from vintage postcards

Trashmagination’s reusable gift tags from plastic packaging

Environmentally-friendly gift wrapping - fabric bag, reusable gift tag, bow from recycled 2L bottle and cap - designed by Trashmagination
Environmentally-friendly gift wrapping – fabric bag, reusable gift tag, bow from recycled 2L bottle and cap – designed by Trashmagination

Wrapping Bows from Recycled Materials

Bow from recycled magazine pages

Bow from recycled balloons

Bow from recycled holiday bulbs

Ppompoms made from t-shirt yarn

Gift decorated by a little forest of evergreen trees

Gift decorated by a ruffle sewn from scrap fabric or kraft paper

Gift decorated with weaving made from ribbons or strips of scrap fabric

Trashmagination’s gift “bow” from a recycled soda bottle

Decorative gift "bow" made from a recycled green soda bottle and cap
Decorative gift “bow” made from a recycled green soda bottle and cap

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