Did you know that most wrapping paper is not recyclable? Also, glitter is microplastics: they never go away, never break down, and pollute water systems that cannot be filtered out. Gift wrap is definitely not the most unsustainable part of the holiday season, when consumerism runs wild. However, it is an easy and visual way to cut down on waste. So how do you wrap gifts sustainably?

1. Reuse older gift bags or use paper bags

Reuse gift bags given to you, and encourage others to do the same. When I give a gift bag, I write “reuse me” on the bottom where it’s not usually visible. You can even say something when you give it like: “Isn’t this bag so cute? Next time you pack a gift reuse this one anyone would love it. I especially would love to see it again” *insert cringey wink*.

My family has always reused gift bags. I’ve low key noticed that the prettiest ones tend to be given to people in our immediate family so we always get them back. If you’re all out of bags, it’s rather easy to get your hands on some paper ones.

2. Save and reuse tissue paper from gifts you receive

When I order clothes online from ThredUp, they always give me the cutest turquoise polka dotted paper. It’s a shame to recycle that, so I put it where we keep our gift wrap so people can reuse it. Keep it from gifts you receive if it’s still in good shape, and keep using it!

3. Wrap with newspaper or brown Kraft paper

I’m a Sound of Music fan, so I’ll always love brown paper packages tied up with string. You can even use newspaper. One of my friends from high school recently wrapped a present in old sheet music. How creative is that?!

4. Embellishment

Reuse decorations you already have for gifts, and decorate them with elements of nature. Try using holly branches, drying out orange slices. You can find the DIY here. You can also find thrifted pins and jewelry to decorate with, or wrap with old fabric

5. Reusable gift pouches

There’s no way anyone could accidentally throw away these cute bags. Felt bags and pouches are great to put gifts in because the receiver is much more inclined to keep and reuse them.

This is the one I used to wrap my parent’s Christmas gift this year

6. Clothespin gift tags

Gift tags aren’t really necessary for birthdays, but for Christmas when there’s a lot of gifts under the tree, it’s helpful to tell them apart. This is an awesome way to make a reusable gift tag! If you buy this person gifts every year, you can even ask for the tag back to reuse for next year.

7. Include a reusable bag as part of the gift!

Give a reusable bag as a part of your gift, like these canvas ones! They are beautiful, durable, and a great reusable gift that can be used for years to avoid plastic bags. You can get plain ones or even personalize them to match the style and tastes of your gift receiver!

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