Rather than contribute to the 4 million tons of waste generated during the holidays from store bought wrapping paper, consider upcycling alternatives like fabric, shoe boxes, paper bags, maps or calendar pages that you already have on hand. It’s a chance to get creative and personal for a really stand out presentation:

  • Cut paper bags flat and wrap the gift using the blank side. Decorate with stamps, markers, or whatever suits your (or your child’s) artistic fancy. You can also use old magazine pages, maps, newspaper comics–you get the idea. Simple and beautiful! There are many websites like this to help you get creative.
  • You can save gently used commercial wrapping paper for use next year and use it to wrap smaller gifts, or have your kids come up with the most creative wrapping piecing together the saved paper.
  • Cut squares of cloth (old sheets work well), or use thin handkerchiefs or tea towels to wrap gifts the traditional Japanese way. The simple techniques result in a very elegant look, and the wraps can be used year after year.
  • For a comical twist, clean out food containers like cereal boxes, nut or potato chip cans with lids, and even paper flour bags that are in good condition. Fill the cleaned container with the gift (and tissue paper if needed) and seal carefully to make it look new. The recipient will be genuinely surprised!
  • If you do buy commercially made wrapping paper, avoid the ones that have a glossy or metallic surface. They CANNOT be recycled. Also, avoid ribbons and bows that are derived from fossil fuels like polyester or nylon (which must be thrown in the trash). If you must have that finishing touch, reach for ones made from natural fibers like cotton, linen, raffia, and silk–and reuse them from year to year.