I am Elsa, a MSc Environmental Entrepreneurship graduate and social media content creator, passionate about sustainability and circular economy.

I am Elsa, a MSc Environmental Entrepreneurship graduate and social media content creator, passionate about sustainability and circular economy.

Low Waste Gift Wrapping

Low Waste Gift Wrapping

I love Christmas and the cozy, warm and fuzzy feeling Christmas time gives me, delicious food, beautiful music, baking gingerbread biscuits and wrapping presents to friends and family.

Christmas is also no doubt one of the biggest and most wasteful of our consumerist celebrations. I remember from my childhood, putting torn wrapping papers and string into rubbish bags and even for a small family of 4, we produced a lot of rubbish! We aimed to save any gift bags and ribbons and things that could be reused, but a lot of the gift wrapping was not even really reusable, because it was already so thin, worn and torn.

A lot of gift wrap papers cannot be recycled at the moment, mainly those that are shiny and glittery, because they contain non-paper additives. If you are unsure whether a paper can be recycled, do the ‘scrunch test’: scrunch the paper into a ball in your hand and if it stays pretty much in the same shape and does not spring back, it is most likely recyclable. (Wrap, 2015) Sticky tape on paper wrapping and plasticky strings are also problematic as these cannot be recycled and can contaminate recyclable paper, if not separated from it correctly.

There are some brilliant ways to wrap your presents more sustainably with reusable and widely recyclable materials. Instead on the non-recyclable materials, you could use brown paper, newspaper or pages from an old magazine. I personally love the kind of rustic look that these materials provide. I reuse natural string that I have saved from packaging or old gifts and I usually also make plain gift tags from recycled card. You could also use fabric as a reusable gift wrap. Make sure to stock up on paper tape.

I decided to put my creativity to the test and to see what kind of gift wrapping I could come up with by using different, more sustainable materials. I gathered materials from around the house, had to buy a couple of things and also went for a walk into the forest for some biodegradable decoration. Read on to see the results of my sustainable gift wrapping experiment!

Old Magazines

I was lucky enough to find a Country Living Modern Rustic magazine, that I had bought to admire a few years ago, in my bookshelf. The paper they used is thick, non-glossy and the colours are beautiful. I put these three packets together by using those old magazine pages. The two larger ones are too big for one magazine page to totally cover them, so I first wrapped them in reused white tissue paper underneath and taped magazine pages on top (pieces of tape hidden at the back of the parcels).


For decoration I used grey hemp cord and dried up plants found in our nearby forest.


Let your creativity run wild and play with the magazine pages to find the prettiest part to have at the front of the gift. I tried to get my gifts to match a little bit in terms of colour and it was quite fun to design my gift wraps. You know me, I love crafts, so this is ideal!


Fabric Gift Wraps

I have a pile of fabric scraps, which work well as fabric gift wraps. I did not want to use any tape to ruin the fabric, so having natural string is a must for wrapping with fabric! The large gift with white wrapping has the edges of the fabric folded behind the packet and the medium natural linen colour packet has the fabric edges neatly folded at the front and secured with string.


I love eucalyptus and that is what I bought from our local florist to decorate the gift. One branch is usually around £1-1.5 and will decorate many presents. And the scent - well, my boyfriend and I both love it!


Did you know that you can also buy ready-made and reusable fabric gift wrap? If you are looking to buy a fabric gift wrap, I would recommend searching on Etsy, which is the treasure trove for all lovely and crafty goodies. I bought this small linen gift wrap (£6) from FOLDSwrap on Etsy. How about using a teatowel for wrapping a gift? Those are readily available and you can get them in all kinds of colours and patterns from Christmassy to very plain and minimal.


Brown paper

If you prefer to use wrapping paper, brown paper will be a more sustainable choice. It can be easily recycled and it looks pretty, too! I have used new brown paper, which I have had for a while and I assume must have come with plastic wrapping as it is hard to find any wrapping paper plastic free. I also reused some brown paper that I have saved from other packaging.


For decoration I used some dried orange, grapefruit and lime slices. They did get a little burnt in the oven, but I actually quite like the darker shade! I wrapped a white paper string around the gifts.



Newspaper makes a brilliant more rustic-looking gift wrap. Again, I was playing around with different newspaper pages and colours. With the newspaper I also decided not to hide, but to emphasize those edges of paper and pieces of paper tape holding the newspaper wrapping together.


Our nearby forest provided me with some fitting decoration for these gifts as well. I picked up some fallen leaves and dried up plants and tied them to the parcels with grey hemp cord.


I adore the muted colours and rustic look of newspaper.


I hope you enjoyed this blog post about low waste gift wrapping. I for sure will continue experimenting with new sustainable gift wrapping ideas for the next few weeks.

Please, wrap responsibly this Christmas!

With love,

Elsa xxx

Zero Waste Christmas Gift Guide 2018

Zero Waste Christmas Gift Guide 2018