Gift Wrapping Paper Alternatives

You are given a gift, tear off the wrapping paper and then throw it in the bin. And then so does everyone else, and that’s the problem. Gift wrapping paper wastes resources and wastes your money. Read on to find out about gift wrapping paper alternatives.

Gift Wrapping Paper Usage in Australia

The average Australian uses around 8 metres of gift wrapping paper each Christmas. This equates to an astonishing 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper just over the Christmas period and does not take into account gift wrapping paper used over the rest of the year.

Is Gift Wrapping Paper Recyclable?

Contrary to popular belief, gift wrapping paper is often not suitable for recycling. It may be laminated, metallic, textured or contain glitter, gold or silver colourings, plastics or still have sticky tape on it.

Newspaper, Jute and Plants as Gift Wrappings

So we decided as a family not to buy anymore wrapping paper. Our focus was on looking for gift wrapping paper alternatives. I had big plans for wrapping Christmas presents in newspaper, tied with jute and decorated with plants from the garden.

Although, I do have to admit at having a bit of mum guilt at the thought of not giving presents wrapped in bright shiny paper due to societal parental expectations. I needed to keep reminding myself that this is a big picture topic that benefits their future.

Newspaper as gift wrapping paper

In reality, it didn’t happen because we still had plenty of gift wrapping paper left over from last year. It didn’t make financial sense to throw it out without using it first.

Edit: One year later we finally finished up using our supply of Christmas gift wrapping paper. Now using newspaper, recycled gift bags, vouchers in decorated envelopes, brown paper bags and discarded art work from our kids has become the norm.

Paper bag gift wrapping decorated with stamps

Gift Wrapping Japanese Style

Not long after Christmas, my daughter turned 5 years old. It was time to get creative about wrapping her birthday presents. Sticking to our pledge about not wasting money or resources on gift wrapping paper, I started seriously researching gift wrapping paper alternatives. We were already using the kid’s paintings for gifts but they were in very limited supply.

When researching gift wrapping paper alternatives, I came across the Japanese art of wrapping presents in reusable cloth – Furoshiki. They had some seriously impressive gift wrapping skills such as using their fabric wrap to make flowers or even a rabbit on top of the gift.

Photo of a young girl's gifts wrapped in a new sheet set Furoshiki style.
We ended up wrapping her presents in a new sheet set (which she needed)

What You Can Do At Home

You could include the wrapping as part of the gift like we did; or purchase reusable cloths such as tea towels, hand towels, pillowcases and scarves when they are on special; or wrap gifts for a baby in a baby blanket; or buy scarves, towels and blankets second hand from the opportunity shop to use as wrapping (I recommend washing them first).

Amazon also sell beautiful traditional Furoshiki fabrics.

Imagine if everyone used reusable fabric wrapping, you’d have a constant supply of wrappings!

There’s heaps of great Furoshiki videos on YouTube. This link shows how to wrap a square shape, a bottle, and a round shape.

Of course, you could do away with tangible gifts altogether and buy an experience as a gift.

Experiences as Gifts – No Wrapping Required

Do you remember what gifts you received for your last birthday, the one before that, what about the one before that? My guess is you don’t. But if you were given an experience, now you’d remember that!

We were on holiday in Tasmania many years ago and my husband bought me a Christmas gift which was a bike ride from the top of Mount Wellington all the way back to Hobart Harbour. I got my hubby a kayak ride through the Hobart Harbour when the Sydney to Hobart yacht race was on. We still talk about these experiences today!

For the most recent Christmas, hubby received entry into a running event called a Beer Mile. In this event he had to drink a beer and then run 400 metres and do this four times. Now that’s a gift he’ll not forget! (And there was no wrapping paper involved.)

It’s Time to Make a Change

As you can see, there is actually no reason to waste your money or trash the environment with gift wrapping paper. If we all made small sustainable changes, together we would make a huge positive impact.

Next time you give a gift, consider using environmentally friendly alternatives to gift wrapping paper. Or do away with wrapping altogether and give an experience – the planet will thank you for it, and so will your bank balance.

Want to know how to reduce your household’s waste even more – read up about Plastic Produce Bags, Alternatives You Can Use.

Declare a future gift moment where you will challenge yourself not to use gift wrapping paper, include what you will use instead.

Please comment below to make it real.

2 thoughts on “Gift Wrapping Paper Alternatives

  • 11 December 2020 at 8:39 am

    Love the furoshiki idea! Surprised I’ve never heard of it before. The newspaper and paper bag wrapping also look surprisingly good. The waste of wrapping paper has bothered me for a while, so thanks so much for putting these ideas together!

    • 11 December 2020 at 1:08 pm

      Hi Jordan, I’m so glad I’ve been able to help you make a sustainable change – it’s also good not the spend money on single use throw away items 🙂

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