Zero Waste Gift Wrapping

Zero Waste Gift Wrapping

The most zero waste gift wrapping is, of course, nothing at all. But pretty packages are as wonderful to decorate as they are to gift and so most of us decide to wrap our surprises before gifting them to loved ones. If handing an unwrapped gift to someone feels uncouth to you, there are a couple of very low waste gift wrap options to choose between: recyclable or reusable.

I keep a little box of packaging supplies I've squirreled away throughout the year. Things like pretty sheets of tissue paper, cardboard boxes, little scraps of string, fabric off-cuts, and brown paper bags. I like the challenge of making beautiful wrapping from reused materials and castoffs to make gifts look beautiful (with a little effort).

Low waste gift wrap is something I'm asked about a lot during the festive season, and as I wrap this year's presents, I thought I'd share my efforts at making gift giving more sustainable. It starts with a purchase made from an independent business and ends with wrapping that can be reused again (and again), recycled, or composted.

Low Waste Gift Wrap

Brown Paper. The obvious choice albeit a rather plain one. You can make it much more interesting by adding some low waste decorations (see below) or hand drawing directly onto it. Stamps with eco-friendly inks would be wonderful too. This is my favourite choice as you can reuse brown paper saved from home deliveries.

Tissue Paper. Many online purchases (especially those bought from independent shops) are delivered in beautiful tissue paper that makes excellent gift wrap or even extra padding in gift boxes. I like to add an extra layer of wrapping to more fragile gifts and tissue paper is perfect for this.

Paper Bags. I tend to pick these up from small purchases made in independent shops and wine merchants, which I then repurpose as gift bags. Again, these can be decorated with the below low waste decorations or used simply for transporting wrapped gifts to the recipient.

Cloth Scraps. You'll find plenty of cotton and linen in charity shops; things like napkins and tablecloths (plain or patterned) can be turned into beautiful gift wrapping. This can easily be reused by the recipient to wrap someone else's gift, or used as napkins or cloths for cleaning at home.

Fabric Scarves. Another low waste (and low effort) gift wrapping solution that's easy to pick up second-hand are fabric scarves. I see baskets full of these in charity shops and they're a beautiful way to wrap gifts, and can be reused year after year.

Tote Bags. Many of us have an overabundance of fabric tote bags and one way to deplete your stash is to hand over your gifts in one. With friends and family all over the country, I tend to gift wrap my presents and deliver them in a pretty tote bag, which they can then keep and use or regift.

Zero Waste Gift Wrapping

Low Waste Gift Wrap Decorations

Twine. A ball of twine is useful for all sorts of things, one of them being putting the finishes touches on a gift. I use tape to secure my wrapped presents and then decorate with twine but if you're using fabric wrapping, twine can help keep the gift under wraps. I keep little lengths of twine saved from parcels to reuse in my own gift wrapping.

Dried Oranges. A very festive choice for gift wrapping are dried orange slices. You make easily make these yourself and feed them onto a length of twine to attach to your gift. They can be hung as tree decorations or bunting after your gift has been opened.

Sprigs of Foliage. Dried herbs, eucalyptus, and pine, even small flowers, look really beautiful as decoration on gift wrap. I slip them in underneath the twine, no need for fixing them in place although if you want to, a small piece of brown tape will do.

Cinnamon Sticks. Another pretty yet useful decoration. Cinnamon sticks can be affixed to the gift wrap and removed once the present has been opened to be used as either festive decoration or as an ingredient. I pop mine in homemade mulled wine or stews.

Old Cards. If you still receive the odd celebratory card from friends or family, you can repurpose these into gift tags. Cut around an image, write a note on the bag, and make a little loop out of twine to attach it to your gift.

Origami. There are some really simple paper folding techniques that make beautiful gift wrapping decoration, like these origami trees. Make them from scraps of paper and attach to your gifts with a little twine or recyclable paper tape.

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