There might be a number of ways to wrap gifts more sustainably.
Below, we outline those potential ways, such as considering more sustainable gift wrapping material, considering alternatives to packing/wrapping tape, and more.
1. Firstly, Consider The Type Of Gift You Are Giving
Before you buy a physical gift and prepare to wrap it, you might consider the type of gift you’ll be getting for the person who’s going to receive it.
Buying the right gift is important, but, different types of gifts have different sustainability footprints.
The gift giver may want to consider some of the following points:
– Knowing what the gift receiver wants or needs in a gift
If the gift receiver receives something they don’t want or don’t need, the gift may either go unused (or barely used), or be thrown out as waste
Neither of these things might rate as very sustainable
So, finding out what the gift receiver may want or need before buying the gift might be useful
– A pre-paid electronic gift voucher or money may be a good gift where you’re unsure what the gift receiver may want or need
In this instance, there’s a much better chance the gift receiver can buy something themselves that they want or need, and that they’ll end up using
An electronic pre-paid gift voucher or an electronic money transfer may also keep things paperless and minimise waste
– Some gifts may be more sustainable in some ways than other gifts
As one example of this, buying someone an ‘experience’ as a gift, may be more sustainable in some ways than some physical product type gifts
The ‘experiences’ we refer to could be recreational or travel based experiences
For example, buying a ‘sustainable sightseeing tour’ or a ‘sustainable travel tour’ experience may be more sustainable in some ways than a physical product that ends up as waste at some point
This isn’t always the case, but some gifts may certainly rate as more sustainable than others across some sustainability indicators
2. Consider Using A Reusable Gift Bag Or Box
Reusable bags, boxes, or even baskets, may be alternatives to wrapping paper and soft wrapping materials.
Reusable bags and boxes can come in different sizes for different sized gifts.
They also come with different designs and prints on the outside of them, so they can look really neat and appealing.
They can obviously be retained and reused afterwards (by either the gift giver or receiver).
A benefit of reusable gift bags and boxes is that they often don’t need any wrapping tape – the gift can be put in the bag or box, and that’s it
3. Consider Reusable Fabrics & Cloths
Another alternative to wrapping paper.
Reusable fabrics and cloths can be made of a range of materials – sustainable, or less sustainable materials.
For example, many may be cotton or silk, but, you may be able to find other types of materials too – organic cotton might be one example.
Some are washable – check the product description to confirm.
They usually come with very visually appealing designs and patterns on them.
Apart from being able to be reused afterwards, they may be very simple to wrap and tie off, or fasten with a ribbon or string, instead of having to use wrapping tape.
Examples of fabric and cloths you can use for gift wrapping might be:
– Regular Reusable Fabric Wraps, & Cloth Wraps
There are sellers that sell reusable fabric wraps, and cloth wraps specifically for gift wrapping.
There’s different materials available – check what material it is in the product description.
You can also buy regular fabrics and cloths and use them if they are a suitable size, shape, transparency (so the gift receiver can’t see through the fabric), and design.
Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths.
They were/are traditionally used to wrap and/or to transport goods.
You can buy ‘Furoshiki’ style wrapping cloths from sellers that sell them if you prefer this style of cloth over a non-Furoshiki cloth or fabric.
– Vintage & Antique Fabrics, Cloths & Scarves
Some vintage and antique stores will have very nice vintage style/vintage looking fabrics, scarves or cloths that you can buy and use.
– Secondhand Fabrics & Cloths
Some secondhand stores and thrift stores may also have different types of fabrics you can use if they are suitable to use for gift wrapping.
4. Consider More Sustainable Types Of Gift Wrapping Paper
If you’re going to use wrapping paper, you might consider the sustainability of the different types of paper.
Some of the different options to be aware of might be:
– Reuse Or Repurpose Paper
You may have collected or stored paper at some point in the past that is suitable to be reused or repurposed for gift wrapping.
Some people may choose to repurpose newspaper, depending on the type of gift and the situation, but, others may decide that newspaper isn’t suitable or isn’t visually appealing enough.
So, this option isn’t always suitable.
– Buy & Use More Sustainable Types Of Wrapping Paper
Regular wrapping paper can be single use, contain use heavily processed materials, can use heavy chemicals, and be non-recyclable (only disposable in general waste)
However, other more sustainable types of wrapping paper might have more sustainable features, including but not limited to:
Containing a certain % of recycled content (although, be aware that some materials containing already recycled content may not be able to be recycled again)
Being manufactured with few chemicals (Kraft paper may be one example of this)
Being biodegradable or compostable under certain conditions
This separate guide on sustainable packaging may have more information on, and examples of sustainable wrapping paper and materials.
5. Consider More Sustainable Alternatives To Gift Wrapping Tape
People may traditionally use packing tape and gift wrapping tape to fasten or secure wrapping paper.
This tape can consist of a backing material (that might include plastic and other material), coated with an adhesive.
Other more sustainable alternatives than this type of tape might include:
– String/rope/twine (made of paper, hemp, or other materials)
The above alternatives can be bought new and reused, or used again if they have already been used before.
6. Consider More Sustainable Gift Wrapping Decorations & Accessories
Decorations made of plastic, and products like glitter are sometimes used to decorate gift wrapping paper.
Instead, some more sustainable decoration materials and items might include:
Refashioned items from around the home – especially arts and craft items you have left over
Items you might find in thrift shops – can be full of good pre-used items for decorations
Colored sand or biodegradable glitter products
Tree sprigs and other natural materials
1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides