GO NATURAL: Eco-friendly alternatives to using gift wrap

n-comics-628x314Photo courtesy of Becca Armstrong

Tons of gift wrap ends up in landfills every year. It’s unnecessary, especially when better alternatives exist. Here are a whole bunch of them to consider this holiday season:

  1. Cloth bags: We all have bags sitting around the house. If you’re like me, you can’t throw away pretty things, and this is a great re-use of them. These bags are available for purchase and you can use them over and over. They’re even waterproof and washable, and much sturdier than standard gift bags.
  2. Decorated grocery bags: Like cloth bags, sturdy grocery bags can also be used for gifts. If you don’t want to give a plain bag or need to cover the store name, tons of items can do the job. Old sheet music, pieces of wallpaper, leftover stationary are all good ideas. You can also cut up the bag and decorate it if you need to actually wrap something. These are also available in bulk and are usually cheaper than buying gift wrap.
  3. Printer paper: Who doesn’t have regular old printer paper? Find a cool design and print it on the paper. Use a stamp. Let your kids draw on it. Look up customized word search tools (many free ones are widely available).
  4. Newspaper: Every newspaper I know of has comics in it, and oftentimes they’re in color. What’s cooler than getting a present you can read later?
  5. Scarf or other clothing: Cut up a piece of clothing that’s too small or you simply don’t wear anymore. Just be sure you don’t give this wrapping to the person who gifted you the clothes! Try Goodwill or another thrift store to find a source of cheap clothing if you don’t want to cut your own up.
  6. Cereal boxes: Here’s a printable template from Huffington Post you can use to turn your empty cereal boxes into awesome wrapping.
  7. Food storage containers: Whether you use glass or plastic, these are an especially fun idea for homemade gifts. Why use glass? Because you’re not putting more plastic into the world. I wouldn’t have included the plastic alternative but most of us re-use these containers over and over so the environmental impact decreases.
  8. Mason jars: These are another thing sitting around the house. Give them an environmentally friendly second life as wrapping paper! If you need to buy some, for homemade cookie mixes and the like, you can get pint and quart size jars.
  9. Toilet paper rolls: Have a tiny gift? Use an empty toilet paper roll, folded. Instructions are here.
  10. Baskets: If you don’t have some of these cluttering up your basement, bravo! You can also go to any thrift shop or yard sale and pick them up for a song. I do that when I go to garage sales and then donate them to my daughter’s school to use for basket auctions.
  11. Mismatched pillow cases: Yet another thing many of us are loathe to part with. But using them as gift wrap is a great solution.

o-cereal-box-gift-wrap-570Photo courtesy of Catherine McEver