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
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.
Furoshiki and Other Fabric Gift Wrapping Options
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
Gift Boxes from Recycled Materials
Gift Tags from Recycled Materials
Wrapping Bows from Recycled Materials
Bow from recycled magazine pages
- Script for this podcast episode about gift wrapping without creating trash (not a transcript but gives the main ideas)
- The Trashmagination podcast theme music is Kitchen from the Marian Circle Drum Brigade.