Right now it’s the holidays but any time of year is a good time to practice sustainable and eco friendly gift wrapping and ribbon ideas. Giving gifts is a real joy and many of us go to great lengths to find something special for the giftee. So making the presentation just as amazing is part of the fun and excitement of presenting your gift. And in the same breath, you don’t want to have a joyful moment be wasteful and cause a negative environmental impact. So let’s look at all the great ideas for eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas.

Why Choose Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Options 

  • Microplastics: Glitter is basically a microplastic. Any gift wrap with glitter components is not recyclable and ends up in the trash which ends up in our oceans and is harmful to marine life (and ultimately us who consume marine life full of microplastics).
  • Toxic chemicals: Wrapping paper made overseas in countries like China could contain lead, chlorine, and other harsh chemicals.  
  • Waste: Wax-coated and metallic wrapping paper (along with tissue paper) are not recyclable and end up in landfills.**If every family wrapped three presents in eco-friendly packaging, enough regular paper would be saved to cover 45,000 football fields according to Stanford University.


Cardboard Boxes

If you’re an online shopper you probably have a lot of shipping boxes in your midst. Or if you save your food product cardboard boxes for recycling (cereals, health bars, cookies, pasta, etc.) these can be turned into upcycled gift boxes.

  • Turn food boxes inside out for a blank canvas and decorate them with stamps, doodles, or some of the eco-decoration ideas listed below.
  • Cover a printed box with scrap fabric or paper.


Many moms were doing this before it become trendy, but wrapping a gift in cloth fabric scraps, scarves, pillowcases, felt pieces, etc. is a very eco-friendly gift wrapping idea. 

  • In Japan, it’s called “furoshiki” and is a formal art and a tradition for gift wrapping.  

Children’s Artwork

Parents of younger kids might have an excess of their offspring’s art around. This is a great way to use it and make one-of-a-kind gift wrapping. 

Glass Jars

Endlessly recyclable, plus a reusable part of the gift, a glass jar is another great way to give a present in an eco-friendly manner. 

  • Great for baked goods. 
  • Works well for smaller gifts too: jewelry, decor items, sweets, nuts…


Newspapers are still part of the country’s communication resources and free copies can be found in grocery stores, non-profit organizations, and local city guides. 

  • Each gift can have a unique look by using different pages of your local newspaper. 
  • Foreign language (Spanish, Chinese, whatever may be in your neighborhoods) makes for an extra fun alternative.
  • Old magazine pages can also be used.


Old Book Pages

Thrift stores (or maybe your garage) are full of really inexpensive paperback books that make for great wrapping paper sources.

  • A book page gift bag is a beautiful option. 
  • Take your book page and create two wings, fold them up inside, and tape. Close one of the ends like a gift box with a pin or bow by creating two holes at the top.

Plain Recyclable Paper

Brown unbleached paper (many times referred to as craft or kraft paper) is an eco-friendly option. This type of paper is biodegradable and recyclable. 

  • Alternatives: brown paper bags. 
  • Personalize with handmade tags, nature decor, or painted or ink stamps.

Shopping Bags

Use any old shopping bags you’ve saved over the year.

  • Paper, totes, and previously used gift bags all count.
  • Add handmade tags and ribbons to make the gift shine with your own creative touch.

Thrift Store Items

With an open and creative mind, you can have fun browsing your local thrift shop for affordable and sustainable gift wrap ideas. Here are some ideas of wrapping accessories to hunt for:

  • Jars and cookie tins
  • Maps
  • Ornaments (for decoration)
  • Scarves
  • Sheet Music
  • Tea or kitchen towels
  • Vintage cards (for gift tags)


Most ribbon on the market today are made out of plastic materials and is not compostable. So here are several eco-friendly ideas to add the finishing touches to your sustainably wrapped gifts.

  • Biodegradable tape is a great way to start (or no tape at all!). 
  • Christmas tree sprigs– almost any tree tent or sale site will be happy to share some of the cut branches and fallen twigs.
  • Cloth ribbons -use any throwaway stained or damaged clothing items to cut into  cloth robbins. Fabric ribbons are a very pretty way to replace plastic store-bought ribbons. Feel free to use any fabric you have on hand: old curtains, pillowcases, t-shirts, dresses, etc.
  • Draw or paint– add lovely artistic touches to your plain paper packages or boxes with some hand-painted patterns. Makes sure to use non-toxic art supplies like beeswax crayons. 
  • Dried flowers– a lovely natural touch to add to your eco-friendly wrapped gift. 
  • Hemp or cotton ribbons are biodegradable safe alternatives and can continue to be reused. 
  • Nature items such as small tree branches, baby pine cones, acorns, holly, and colorful fall leaves. 
  • Orange slices (dried)– if you happen to be in a state that has an abundance of local citrus fruits, making dried fruit slices is an easy and very festive plus lovely way to add natural decorative elements to your gift presentations. Add a piece of cinnamon stick for the quintessential holiday flair.
  • Twine is a natural material and works well with your rustic type of eco friendly gift wrappings. 
  • Wool felt, and yarn are more natural materials that can be used as ribbons in your creative wrapping endeavors. Wool felt can be cut into designs that can be reused year after year. 
  • Wood clothespins are eco-friendly items that can also be used to secure name tags or other decorative pieces to your packages. Especially awesome for bottles or other tall gifts. 

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