Eco-Holidays: Reduce waste with reusable wrapping paper


The holidays are here in full swing and what better time to focus on what we can do to make the world a better place… with less waste.

Germany’s packaging waste is on the rise – all those individually wrapped meals and plastic bags for fruits and veggies certainly add up. And especially at the time of year when many of us will be buying gifts for others, there’s one thing we can do to make a big difference: gift-wrap.

How much wrapping paper do you think is thrown out every holiday season?

 It seems utterly ridiculous, doesn’t it? We literally buy paper to wrap up presents, only to have them promptly unwrapped and the paper thrown in trash (or hopefully recycled). At the same time, there’s something magical about a rainbow of wrapping under the tree each Christmas morning (or eve, depending on how you celebrate).

So how do we get the best of both worlds: pretty presents that are sustainable and environmentally friendly, too?

wrapping paper
taken by erika g via flickr

Before you head out to the purchase rolls on cellophane-wrapped paper check to see what you’ve got in your home.

  1. Newspapers/Magazines

If you’re the old-school type that still loves to read the black and white print each morning, yesterday’s news is the perfect base for beautifully wrapped gifts. Add a cloth ribbon for a burst of color or you could decorate the paper itself with holiday-style designs.

Double bonus for magazines, which can give you a colorful look just as dynamic and appealing as your everyday wrapping paper!

  1. Paper bags

Many grocery stores offer the option of (purchasing) a paper bag instead of a plastic one (that is, if you don’t bring your own bag anyways). And often, during the holidays the different stores may put some festive print to jazz up the normally dull bags as well.

  1. Fabric

Have you got any leftover fabric lying around the house? Perhaps an old sewing project? Wrap up the gifts in a unique and eco-friendly way for your recipients to use again.

  1. Reusable boxes/bags

Make the wrapping part of the present! Give them a nice box or bag that they can use again – maybe to sort socks or as a new bag to take to the market. One U.S.-based retailer, Patagonia, is selling gift bags made from recycled fabric for only $2 a bag! That’s a lot less than you would pay for one of those decorative versions with tissue paper at the local shop.

  1. Shoe boxes

 Do you love shoes? Have you saved the boxes when you purchase a new pair? There’s probably a lot of paper left inside just waiting to go to waste.

Bonus tip: Bows and ribbons Don’t go out and spend a fortune on paper bows and ribbons! Head to your local fabric shop and pick up a roll or two of fabric bows that can be reused after the holidays are over.