Greenpeace USA’s Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Wrapping—Never Buy Gift Paper Again

by Mariah De Los Santos

November 17, 2021

Here are a few techniques to rethink how you wrap up your gifts the waste-less way this year.

Most gift wrapping is made out of hard-to-recycle mixed materials and so goes straight to landfill. Over the Holidays, we create millions of tons of waste, andestimates claim half of it ends up in landfills — hardly a surprise to anyone who has ventured out into the streets on the garbage day after Christmas. The sidewalks become an obstacle course of overstuffed garbage bins and bags nearly exploding with old wrapping, ribbon and packaging.

For those looking to reduce their waste this Holiday season, gift wrapping is an easy and simple place to start. Here are a few techniques to rethink how you wrap up your gifts the waste-less way this year.

@greenpeaceusa Turn your holiday gifts from wasteful to waste-free! #sustainable #ecofriendly #zerowaste #plasticfree #lowwaste #greenpeace #gifts #fyp ♬ CRAFT – OFEKNIV

1) Furoshiki Wrapping

A series of Japanese wrapping techniques for wrapping gifts in cloth, this is a go-to for gifts of all shapes and sizes.


But before you rush out and buy brand new cloth just to wrap gifts, remember that textile waste is a significant issue in and of itself – we send 81lbs of textiles to landfill per person each year in North America. It’s far more sustainable to use pieces of fabric you already have or check out local thrift stores to find second hand fabrics to use.

Check out this guide for an amazing list of the different Japanese Furoshiki folding techniques you can try.

2) Stop using tape

We’ve all grown up with tape as a staple in the gift-wrapping experience. But what if I told you – you don’t need it to wrap gifts? 

It’s just as simple – maybe simpler, actually – to fold up your gift the same as you would with tape, and then fasten it together using string. And again, bonus points for reusing string you already have. 

If you absolutely feel you must have tape, opt for paper washi tape


3) Use natural greenery and foraged sprigs

Skip the plastic bows and ribbons and go foraging for leaves, pine cones, berries, cedar or pine branches instead! These are truly biodegradable and can be returned to the Earth when the unwrapping is complete.


4) Use old maps

Do you have any old maps lying around? If you don’t have a use for them anymore or anyone to pass them on to, consider using them to wrap up your Holiday gifts. 

5) Upcycle magazines

That old stack of magazines sitting at the back of your closet or on a shelf in your neighbor’s garage? Their glossy finish and brightly colored pictures will make for stylish and chic looking gifts.


6) Use whatever you have lying around 

I keep a little basket tucked away on a shelf where I throw cards people send me, packaging paper or string on gifts and parcels, etc. I pull this out whenever I have to wrap a gift. This saves me money and time – I don’t have to shop for gift wrapping paper and everything I need is always in one place.

Check out more sustainable gift-wrapping hacks with Eco Activist, Valeria Hinojosa on our Latinx web-series, Planeta G! Plus, hear from Greenpeace Mexico Campaigner, Ornella Garelli, about how the plastic industry is contributing to the climate crisis.  

Keep the magic of the Holidays, skip the waste ✌️ #LetsGetWasteless

Mariah De Los Santos

By Mariah De Los Santos

Mariah is the Online Content Associate at Greenpeace USA, based in Washington D.C.

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