From Reusable Fabric to Upcycled Paper: 27 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas for Every Budget

Written by: Lara
Last update:
eco-friendly gift wrapping in pink cloth
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Are you done with wrapping gifts in plastic, knowing that it will just end up in a landfill? So am I! And that’s why I’ve created this list with no less than 27 eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas to help you embrace the eco-lifestyle!

In this sustainable wrapping guide, I’ll take you from extremely simple (seriously, a 2-year-old can do this), but effective sustainable gift wrapping ideas to beautiful and creative options for the artsy people among us that love to make their gifts look even more gorgeous.

So, let’s get our green on and start wrapping!

In case you are also looking for a sustainable gift to wrap, check out these eco-friendly gift guides

Save these eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas

27 ways for sustainable gift wrapping with a photo of gifts wrapped in kraft paper with a string of jute

The easiest eco-friendly gift wrapping idea

#1 Don’t wrap your gifts

The easiest eco-friendly way to wrap gifts is to not wrap them at all.

I know, it’s probably not the answer you hoped for when you searched for sustainable gift wrapping ideas, but it certainly is the most sustainable one. And also the easiest one (as I said, a 2-year-old could do it).

Because the less you use and consume, the fewer resources are needed, and the better it is for mother earth.

Now, I understand that fancy wrapping is a big part of the experience of gift giving and receiving. So don’t worry if you still want to use gift wrap, I’ve still got plenty more sustainable gift wrapping alternatives that will actually wrap your gift.


Non-paper eco-friendly gift wrapping materials

#2 Japanese-style furoshiki wrap

Three gifts wrapped in cloth with Christmas decorations
Futoshiki style wrapping

If you’ve looked at sustainable gift wrapping ideas before, you may have already come across the Japanese furoshiki concept. The concept has been around for centuries, and it’s basically the use of any type of cloth to wrap gifts.

And since it’s made of cloth it can be used over and over again, reducing the need for disposable gift wrap options and minimizing waste.

You can buy furoshiki wraps on Amazon, and check out this YouTube video to find unique ways to use your furoshiki.


#3 Shawls

Silk shawl
Silk shawl

Besides using a furoshiki cloth, you can actually also buy a beautiful shawl that the recipient can then also use as an accessory.

Turning the gift wrap into another gift!


#4 Reuse old clothes as gift wrap

Pile of old clothes that can be reused as sustainable gift wrap
Reuse old clothes as gifts

As I mentioned in the beginning, the less you consume, the better. So instead of buying new fabrics to wrap your gift sustainably, you can also have a look at your closet and find old clothes which you use as a wrap too.

This is especially great with clothes that are not even worth going to a second-hand store anymore. This way, they get a longer life span.

And the best part? You could either pick a beautiful colored sweater or go for the ugliest and oldest sweater you can find and turn it into a sustainable and funny gift wrap.


#5 Reuse other fabrics from home

Old blanket with a hole inside
Reuse blankets with holes as gift wrap

If you don’t have any clothes that you’re willing to put away, check out your closet for other fabrics you can use as a sustainable gift wrapping alternative.

Think of old blankets, pillowcases, cover sheets, tea towels, beach towels, and more.

Just like your old clothes, these items will have a longer lifespan, and you’ve saved another round of wrapping paper.


#6 Cotton gift bags

Happy birthday gift bag
Happy birthday gift bag

The Hallmark birthday reusable gift bag with drawstring is the perfect sustainable gift wrap for birthdays (surprise).

The Hallmark gift bag is made of cotton, so it’s environmentally friendly and you can use it again and again. Plus, the drawstring closure makes it super easy to use.

The design is all about birthdays, with a fun “Happy Birthday” message and colorful graphics. But if you need eco-friendly gift bags for other occasions, check out Amazon for more options.


#7 Use tote bags

Tote bag with joyful
Photo courtesy of Zazzle

Tote bags are another great eco-friendly gift wrapping idea,

Firstly, a tote bag is reusable, so you don’t have to worry about disposable gift wrap ending up in a landfill. Secondly, just like the shawl, a tote bag can be used for multiple purposes, not just as a gift wrap, making it a practical and versatile item.

And lastly, giving a tote bag as a gift allows you to add a personal touch, by choosing a design or message that is specific to the recipient or occasion. Such as this cute Christmas one on Zazzle.


Reuse items from home

#8 Newspapers as gift wraps

Newspapers
Newspapers make unique gift wrap

Using old newspapers to wrap gifts is a great sustainable alternative. It’s like killing four birds with one stone;

  1. You’re giving a unique and creative wrap
  2. You’re repurposing something that would have ended up in the recycling bin
  3. You’re not buying new wrapping paper.

And lastly,, who doesn’t love a little nostalgia? Reading past headlines on their gift wrap will definitely take the recipient down memory lane.

So, next time you’re looking for Eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas, skip the plastic wrap and reach for the old newspaper. Your wallet and the planet will thank you.


#9 Reuse old magazines

Pile of magazines
Colorful pages from magazines make great wrapping paper

If you don’t have old newspapers at home, don’t worry, there are quite a few more recycling options I’ve got for you. And just like the newspaper, they’ll save you money and they will reduce your waste.

The first runner-up is to use old magazines.

Simply pick a colorful or beautiful page from the magazine, and wrap it up. The only downside of using magazines is that they’re usually a lot smaller than newspapers, so you can only use them to wrap smaller gifts.


#10 Save old wrapping paper

Ol used gift wrap and ribbons and other gift wrapping decorations
Save old wrapping paper to use again

Alright, I’m just going to be Captain Obvious here, and I’m not even going to apologize.

Reusing old wrapping paper is the way to go for those who love both the planet and their wallets. Reusing old wrapping paper is a simple yet effective way to reduce waste and save some cash.

So, next time you need eco-friendly wrapping ideas, grab that old paper and get creative with your reuse. You’ll be the eco-friendly hero the world never knew it needed.


#11 Reuse gift bags

A blue gift bag
Gift bags are super easy to use again

Hold the phone, we’ve got another obvious one here!

Just in case reusing old wrapping paper wasn’t enough, reusing old gift bags is yet another eco-friendly way to wrap gifts (that a two-year-old can do).

But in all seriousness, reusing gift bags is a simple and practical way to reduce waste. So, next time you’re looking for gift wrapping alternatives, skip the store-bought bags and grab the ones you’ve got lying around. You’ll be doing Mother Earth a solid, and your wallet will thank you too!


#12 Use delivery boxes

Shipping boxes in front of a door
Use your delivery boxes to wrap gifts

Oh boy, here’s another no-brainer! Reusing old boxes or delivery boxes as gift wraps is another smart and sustainable way to wrap gifts.

Instead of buying new wrapping paper or bags, why not use the boxes you already have? It’s like the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Not only does it reduce waste, but you can also customize the box in any way you want to add a unique touch to your gift.

So, next time you receive a delivery, don’t throw away the box but use it to wrap your next gift and show your love for the planet.


#13 Use chip bags

Bag of chips inside out
Use the shiny inside of a bag of chips

Who knew empty bags of chips could be so versatile?

Not only do they satisfy your cravings, but they can also serve as gift wrap! Using empty bags of chips to wrap gifts is not only a sustainable way to wrap gifts but also a pretty shiny one (just remember to turn your bag inside out and use the shiny inner part as a gift wrap).

Plus, think of all the space you’ll save in the landfill by not throwing away yet another piece of wrapping paper.

So, next time you’re munching on some chips, don’t throw away the bag just yet! Use it to wrap your next gift and bring a smile to the recipient’s face. Talk about a crunchy, salty, and sustainable solution!


Eco-friendly gift wrapping materials

#14 Eco-friendly gift wrapping paper

Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping paper
Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping paper

You don’t have to ditch wrapping paper altogether to be more sustainable.

You can also just use eco-friendly gift wrapping paper that can be recycled, and help mother earth in that way.

To test if your wrapping paper is recyclable, simply scrunch it and see if it stays. If it does, it’s recyclable. Plastic, metallic, and other materials will go back to their original form, and these are exactly the types of wrapping paper that are not recyclable.   


#15 Use kraft paper

Brown kraft paper
Brown kraft paper

Like I said earlier, the fewer materials you buy and consume the better.

So if you want to avoid buying new wrapping paper (even if it is eco-friendly gift wrapping paper), you can also use your kid’s kraft paper. (Assuming you already have kraft paper at home of course).

It gives the gift a beautiful natural, rustic, and earthy look. Plus the rough texture and natural color of kraft paper make it easy to personalize and decorate with ribbons, twines, or other simple embellishments.


#16 Use baskets

Set of three storage baskets that can be used a eco-friendly gift wrapping alternatives
Use baskets to give gifts

Using baskets as a gift wrapping alternative is not only a sustainable solution, but it’s also a fun and creative way to give gifts.

Baskets come in all shapes and sizes and can be easily decorated with flowers, ribbons, or other natural elements to add a personal touch. Plus, like shawls and tote bags, they have the added bonus of being multi-purpose; the recipient can use them to store items or as a decorative piece.

It’s a basket-ful of fun and sustainability.


#17 Reusable tins

Floral decorated tin boxes
Beautiful tin boxes are great for gifts

Another fun and sustainable gift wrapping idea that provides the recipient with a chic and durable keepsake is tin boxes. Such as this cute one.

They are perfect for storing trinkets, treats, or other small items, making them a great addition to any home. Plus, with their metal construction and fun designs, they add a touch of whimsy to any gift-giving occasion. No more single-use wrapping paper for you! By choosing to wrap gifts in reusable tin boxes, you’ll be reducing waste and spreading joy every time you give a gift.


#18 Mason jars

Mason jars
Mason jars

Mason jars are the perfect solution for sustainable gift wrapping.

Not only do they add a touch of charm to your gift (I mean who doesn’t love mason jar gift ideas), but it also reduces waste and promotes sustainability.

They can also be customized with paint, stickers, or ribbon to fit any occasion. And the best part? The recipient can reuse the jar for their own purposes, from storing food to creating decorative centerpieces. And that makes it a great sustainable gift wrap option.


Sustainable gift tag ideas

#19 Ditch gift tags and write on wrapping paper

Here is another unpopular idea.

Just like not using wrapping paper, you could also ditch using gift tags.

It’s another item (albeit small) that won’t end up in landfills.

You can simply write your message or the recipient’s name on the wrapping paper. You could even go completely creative and make an entire masterpiece on the gift wrap (this is particularly great if you’re using kraft paper).  

Don’t worry if this idea does not warm your heart, luckily there are more eco-friendly alternatives to gift tags too.


#20 Sustainable gift tags

Sustainable gift tags in three colors
Sustainable gift tags in three colors

Introducing sustainable gift tags made from recycled material that be recycled again.

I know, mind-is-blown by the originality of my idea. But it works, so I’m not even going to apologize for stating the obvious.

You can check out Amazon to find all sorts of sustainable gift tags, or you could get creative and make one from kraft paper or sustainable wrapping paper yourself.


#21 Use a photo as a gift tag

The last sustainable gift tag idea is a fun option for someone who is close to you.

Pick one of your favorite photos of the two of you, print it, and write your message and the recipient’s name on the back of the photo.

This way you have a unique gift tag, and they have a cute photo!


Sustainable alternatives to ribbons and bows

#22 Ditch ribbons and decorations

Gift wrapped in sustainable wrapping paper without ribbons
Use sustainable wrapping paper without ribbons

I promise this is the last unpopular idea.

But did you know that ribbons and bows can shut down an entire recycling facility for hours?

Yep, they are not recyclable, yet people often add their used ribbons and bows with their recycled paper. And the machines are not designed for ribbons, which is why they can end up clogging the machines and shutting down the facility.

So if you really want to reduce your waste, stop producing waste and ditch the ribbons and bows.

And if you do want a bit of decoration, check out the next two ideas, or YouTube for unique gift-wrapping ideas.


#23 use natural embellishments

Gifts wrapped in kraft paper with a string and natural decorations
Natural embellishments add a beautiful touch to your gifts

Instead of plastic and other non-recyclable materials, opt for a more natural approach to decorating gifts and use natural embellishments like leaves, twigs, and flowers.

This way you can add a touch of nature to your gift-giving while also being environmentally conscious. These natural elements can be collected on a walk in the park, or purchased from your local florist. Plus, they add a pop of color and texture to your gift without sacrificing sustainability.


#24 Save old ribbons and bows

Bag of used ribbons and strings to reuse as a sustainable gift wrap
My bag of old ribbons

I’m a big advocate for not buying everything new, including ribbons and decorations. By reusing old decorations, you’re not only being environmentally friendly, but you’re also keeping with the motto “reduce, reuse, recycle”.

So next time you’re wrapping a gift, take a look in your decoration stash, you might be surprised at how many treasures you’ll find.


Sustainable tape ideas

#25 Wrap gifts without tape

Just like bows and ribbons, tape is often wrongly added to the recycling process of paper. Tape is actually made of a mixture of adhesives and materials that cannot be separated during the recycling process. Additionally, like ribbon, tape can often cause damage to recycling machinery, making it difficult and costly to recycle.

So if you want to wrap more sustainably, ditch your tape and use this fun no-tape wrapping method.

Though, one word of warning. This technique doesn’t work with all shape gifts (yep speaking from experience). For irregularly shaped gifts, check out the next two ideas.


#26 Use twine string instead of tape

gifts wrapped in kraft paper with stings and decorations
Use strings to wrap gifts

The first option is to use twine string instead of tape. It gives that eco-friendly rustic feel to a gift and it’s sustainable. What else could you ask for?

Well, maybe an instruction video on how to wrap gifts using a string. But I’ve got you covered for that. Check it out here.


#27 Use biodegradable tap

Biodegradable tape
Biodegradable tape

This amazing invention is the perfect solution for all your oddly shaped gifts that actually need a good sticky fix. Not only will it keep your gifts looking neat and tidy, but it’ll also disappear into thin air once you’re done with it! Imagine the joy of giving without worrying about tape littering the planet.


Save these eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas

get inspired: 27 unique eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas with a photo of a gift

FAQ about eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas

Why should I use eco-friendly wrapping paper?

Using eco-friendly wrapping paper is better for the environment and reduces waste. Traditional wrapping paper is often non-recyclable and contains harmful chemicals. Using eco-friendly options, such as recycled paper or cloth, is a more sustainable choice and adds a unique touch to your gift giving.

What is an eco-friendly alternative to wrapping paper?

Eco-friendly gift wrapping alternatives include the use of cloth, kraft paper, newspapers, magazines, baskets, tote bags, masons jars, and tin boxes.

What is the most eco-friendly alternative to wrapping paper?

The best eco-friendly alternative to wrapping paper is not using it at all, however, if you must wrap a gift, opt for something reusable such as a jar, bag, or basket that the recipient can use again. These options reduce waste and are better for the environment than traditional wrapping paper.

How do you make eco-friendly gift wrapping?

Making eco-friendly gift wrapping is simple! Use reusable materials like newspapers, cloths, baskets, jars, or old boxes. Opt for natural embellishments over ribbons, and use biodegradable tape instead of regular tape.

AUTHOR

Hi, I’m Lara, a 29-year-old travel-lover (but who’s not these days?). I love reading, puzzling, world-heritage sites, researching, and making lists, which comes in quite handy when you’re making lists of travel gift ideas!