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11 Zero Waste Wrapping Techniques for Holiday Gifts

Canadians make 545,000 tonnes of waste from gift wrapping and shopping bags every year. In 2017, it was estimated that we sent 540,000 tonnes to landfill – or 100,000 elephants worth if you need a visual. There will be an additional 300,000 tonnes of garbage created between mid November and New Years Eve and, if every Canadian wrapped 3 gifts in upcycled materials rather than buying wrapping paper new, enough paper would be saved to cover 45,000 Hockey rinks.

These are sobering facts. All these beautiful wrapping papers, ribbons and bows serve only a single use and most just get thrown away. This is an expensive and wasteful practice.

This is why we will have a ZERO WASTE WRAPPING station at our 6th annual Holiday Gift Swap! Toronto zero waster Your Eco Friend will be running the wrapping station using some of the techniques listed below.

You could also think outside the gift box and give an experiential gift instead! If there was an easy way to create exciting and joyful gift opening experiences when giving intangible gifts, then more people would give them. This is why we’ve partnered with UnWrapIt to make the experience of giving a membership that much more memorable!

Here are 11 zero waste wrapping techniques to help you make the Holidays a little greener:

1) The Art of Furoshiki (Japanese art of wrapping)

This might just be our favourite zero waste wrapping strategy. You can use a piece of fabric or material that you already have lying around the house, or check out your local thrift store to find something. There are several different methods you can use depending on the size and shape of your item.

Check out this great guide for a variety of options. 

2) Skip the Tape

You can wrap gifts without using tape. Check out this handy guide on how to go about it from Trash is for Tossers. If you must use it, find an alternative to plastic tape – such as Paper Tape.

3) Use Leaves, Greenery & other Foraged Sprigs

Skip the bows and ribbons and go foraging for leaves, pine cones, berries, cedar or pine branches, etc. These can be thrown right back outside and returned to the Earth when all the unwrapping is over.

4) Use Old Maps

Do you have a old maps lying around from a trip you took a few years back? If you don’t have anyone to pass them onto, consider using them to wrap up your Holiday gifts. Not only are you reusing to avoid buying new, it’s the trendy thing to do!

5) Use Old Magazines

Old magazines, with their glossy finish and brightly coloured pictures, make for stylish and chic looking gifts.

6) Make Your Bows Using Magazines

Not only can you wrap your gifts using old magazines, you can make bows out of them, too! Here’s how.


7) Use Newspaper

Do you or someone you know still read newspapers 😉 and have some lying around? Don’t recycle them just yet – they make pretty decorative looking gifts! And here’s how to make those cool newspaper roses.

8) Use a Shirt

Check out your local thrift store for a cool shirt or use one you’ve already got. There are a few different ways to do this – check out these instructions for a button-up shirt, see Toronto zero waster Your Eco Friend demonstrate the technique here, or watch this online tutorial.

9) Incorporate part of the Gift as the Wrapping

Are you giving someone a t-shirt, scarf, tote bag, baby blanket or some other cloth item as one component of their gift? Look no further for gift wrapping and use the above described Furoshiki wrapping method where appropriate.

10) Use old Cards to Make Your Holiday Tags/Cards

Rather than purchasing new Holiday cards or gift tags, why not make your own from cards you have received previously?

11) Literally use Whatever you Have Around

Get creative, the sky’s the limit! I have a little basket in my home where I throw cards people send me, packaging paper or string on gifts and parcels, etc. I pull this out whenever I have to wrap a gift. This means I don’t have to waste money purchasing gift paper and I don’t generate any excess waste. Try it – it’s fun!

I’m @itsahashtaglife, a social media manager, storyteller and blogger for non-profits and charities in Toronto. I take the tools and techniques of traditional digital media marketing and apply them to organizations working hard to shift our world into a new story – one that is more sustainable and supportive of people and the planet.

Imagine if Libraries of Things became as readily accessible as book libraries, where every week you visit to select toys, camping gear, board games, sports equipment or party supplies and return what you took out the week before? Imagine if we brought our children up this way so that borrowing stuff rather than buying was the norm? Imagine the shelf space, imagine the savings, imagine the community connections, imagine a cleaner planet.

This is about experience, without the price tag or the clutter. Support us by becoming a member or making a donation. If you are interested in learning how to set up your own Library of Things, get in touch with us for a free Skype consultation where we’ll tell you all about how we did it!

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