Recycled Gift-wrapping Ideas (Eco-friendly & Zero Waste)

12 Recycled Gift-Wrapping Ideas | Eco-friendly & Zero Waste

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Most people don’t give much thought to the volumes of waste that are created on this planet each year just from wrapping paper alone.

According to BusinessWaste, a British waste management company, Britons throw out around 227,000 miles (365,321 km) of wrapping paper just over Christmas, which is enough to stretch 90% of the way to the moon!

I think that in this day in age, with all of the information and data we now have available at our fingertips, it seems crazy for each of us to not be doing a bit better.

Here are a dozen recycled gift-wrapping ideas, that also tick the eco-friendly and zero waste boxes.

Gift-giving doesn’t have to cost the Earth.

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Recycled Gift-wrapping Ideas

Recycled Brown Paper

Recycle Brown Paper, Eco-friendly Gift-wrapping

Using brown paper is one of my favourite recycled gift-wrapping ideas.

I’ve never once bought brown paper in my life; it just seems to accumulate over time from parcel packaging.

The best thing about using brown paper to wrap presents is that there’s no need for a card. The paper itself offers a blank canvas for writing a nice message or decorating in any way that pleases you.

If you want an instant beautiful, handmade look when wrapping presents, go for brown paper with a piece of recycled ribbon or string, then add some greenery or flowers from the garden.

▶︎ VIDEO: Gift-wrapping with Recycled Brown Paper

Scarf or Piece of Fabric

Eco-friendly Zero Waste Gift-wrap (Fabric/ Scarf)

Wrapping gifts with fabric is by no means a modern idea. Furoshiki is the name of the traditional Japanese fabric gift-wrapping method, which has been around since 710 BC.

This is the ultimate zero waste gift-wrapping idea!

The benefits of using fabric as recycled gift-wrapping:

  • Use up existing fabric off-cuts
  • Repurpose old clothing & linen
  • Can be reused over-and-over again
  • Free
  • Not adding more waste to landfill

I find that scarves are a great size and texture for wrapping gifts. You can even incorporate the fabric you use to wrap the gift as being a part of the gift itself.

Who Gives a Crap Packaging

Who Gives a Crap Packaging (recycled gift-wrap)

If you’ve ever bought Who Gives a Crap toilet paper, you’ll know that each individual roll comes wrapped in colourful paper.

I always found it so wasteful to not put that funky paper to good use! So, each time a roll was unwrapped, the paper would be added to my ‘wrapping bag’ in the bottom of the hallway cupboard.

A unique idea is to tape a few different patterns together to create larger sheets of wrapping paper for bigger gifts.

If you’ve never used WGAC before, check out my Who Gives a Crap vs. Kleenex review.


Newspaper Recycled Gift-wrapping Paper

Back in the day when newspapers were thrown onto the lawn each week, it would have been the number one recycled gift-wrapping idea.

These days, newspapers are becoming less common. But if your dad or Aunt Mary still get the Sunday paper, I’m sure they’d be more than happy to hand a few over to be reused.

Toilet Roll Tubes

Recycled Eco-friendly Gift-wrapping (empty toilet rolls) - Homemade Bath Melts

Quite a few years ago I had a little business making lip balms, moisturisers and bath melts.

At the time, I was looking for a way to package up the small items in a sustainable way without having to buy plastic containers. That’s when I came across the idea of using empty toilet roll tubes.

I would wrap the little bars in grease-proof paper, then slide them into the toilet roll tube and add a label. They were a great idea for the local markets.

So, if you’re looking for a recycled gift-wrapping idea for something small, give the empty loo roll a go!

Reuse Nice Shopping Bags

Eco-friendly Zero Waste Gift-wrap (Shopping Bags)

I can never bring myself to throw out any store shopping bags that I come home with. They usually get used as rubbish bags or filled up with things to send to the Op Shop.

But in the case of nicely presented paper bags, they make a great eco-friendly gift-wrapping solution. I always have a few of them handy in my recycled gift wrap stash, ready to go.

Reuse Fabric Dust Cover Pouches

Eco-friendly Zero Waste Gift-wrap (Dust Cover Pouches)

How many people actually use dust cover pouches for their intended purpose (i.e. keeping the dust off the bag, shoes or linen that they came with)? Most of the time I forget I even got a dust cover with the item in the first place.

However, fabric dust cover pouches make great zero waste and eco-friendly gift bags. They are way easier to use than the Furoshiki method and can look nice with a simple ribbon and homemade gift tag tied around the top.

Reuse Old Wrapping Paper

Eco-friendly Zero Waste Gift-wrap (Reuse old wrapping paper)

Just because you and I like to come up with recycled wrapping paper ideas, it doesn’t mean the gifts you receive from others will be of the same thread.

But that’s okay, you can still keep the decent pieces of wrapping paper that are gifted to you and reuse them the next time you need to wrap a present for someone.

Reuse Gift Bags

Eco-friendly Zero Waste Gift-wrap (Reuse gift bags)

The thing that I love about gift bags is that even those with arthritis or terrible wrapping skills (guys, I’m looking at you!) can still partake in wrapping gifts.

To be honest, a paper gift bag can be reused so many more times than paper gift wrap. So, if those are the only two options, the gift bag wins every time.

Upcycled Baskets & Boxes

Eco-friendly Zero Waste Gift-wrap (upcycled baskets & boxes)

In this culture of “stuff,” people love storage solutions. So, using a recycled box or basket is a great idea for those who you know will use it somewhere around the house.

Boxes and baskets are perfect for putting together hampers or displaying multiple gift items together in a nice way.

Upcycled Jars

Upcycled jars with home-picked flowers (zero waste eco-friendly gift)

When my kids were younger, they wanted to give their teachers end-of-year thank-you gifts.

I wanted to come up with something nice they would appreciate, without it costing me anything as I was on a tight budget. Plus, I didn’t want to add to their teachers’ household waste or clutter.

The flowering frangipani tree out the back gave me the idea of getting the kids to pick some flowers and add personalised labels to some recycled jars. The kids had fun and were proud to give their homemade work to their teachers and the ladies loved the thought.

But recycled jars aren’t just good for vases, they are a great eco-friendly gift-wrapping solution for edible gifts, money, jewellery and many other small items.

Tie a ribbon around the rim of the jar and add a label or hand-written gift tag (using recycled card or paper) to finish it off.

Thrifted Wrapping Paper

Eco-friendly Zero Waste Gift-wrap (Thrifted Wrapping Paper)

If you still like the idea of using traditional wrapping paper, have a rummage through some local op shops and see what you can find.

Quite often the miscellaneous/ craft section will have used paper gift bags and rolls of wrapping paper. What you may find can vary from half rolls that never got used up, to brand new rolls still in their plastic.

Leading up to Christmas is when you’re most likely to find wrapping paper out on display in thrift stores.

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