Creative, Eco-Conscious Gift Wrap

creative, eco-conscious gift wrap

‘Tis the season for showering our loved ones with thoughtful gifts!

As long as I can remember, they have always come in shiny packaging with bright colors … and I’m sorry to say, lots of non-recyclable, environmentally toxic materials.

It is estimated that every year in the US alone, we generate 4 million tons of waste with gift wrap and shopping bags, according to one statistic

We are all familiar with the phrase reduce, reuse, recycle. To clarify, our first priority is to reduce the amount of materials we use in the first place, and then hopefully we can reuse the materials we do end up needing, and finally, recycle what we no longer have any use for.

Clearly, the wrapping paper we’ve been using for the last century does not follow any of those principles; it’s also quite a large expense. In 2019, US sales for wrapping paper reached $8.14 billion, according to a report by Sundale Research. 

Luckily, we don’t have to give up traditions of wrapping presents with family, and creating beautiful stacks below the Christmas tree (or wherever else you stash your goodies). There are many creative alternatives that will save money, and reduce waste.

Kraft Paper with Twine and Earth Treasures

kraft paper with twine and earth treasures

This alternative to wrapping paper and bows made from plastic is so sweet and beautiful, plus it brings you closer to the Earth. All you need is a roll of recyclable Kraft paper (bonus points if it is made from recycled paper), some twine, and a place to forage for decorations (your yard, a park, really anywhere with plants).

I love this practice because it gets you out into nature, and can become a really fun, wholesome family tradition. Getting outside is one of the best things we can do for ourselves (check out our blog on Earthing), and this wrapping style will take you outside twice: once to gather, and another to return what you borrowed back to the Earth. 

The sky's the limit when it comes to your creativity in this process, plus your gift decorations will be unique to the natural environment of where you live. You can pick up fallen leaves, twigs and bark, or respectfully clip a piece of a living plant it’s good to ask permission here. Once you’ve gathered all of your materials, it’s time to combine them in a way that only you can!

Helpful Tips:

In order to keep your Kraft paper recyclable, avoid plastic-based tapes and opt for something plant-based like Kraft or washi tape. 

Bear in mind that Kraft paper won’t allow your scissors to slide as easily through the paper as you may be used to with traditional wrapping paper, so just go slow, and be mindful. 

Save your twine for next time!

Furoshiki: The Japanese Art of Cloth Wrapping


Furoshiki has existed for thousands of years, and overtime has had different names and uses. In the last two decades there has been a resurgence in the use of furoshiki for gift wrapping as an environmental effort to reduce the use of plastic. 

It is an elegant way to wrap gifts. Furoshiki works really well for gifts of all shapes, and can be used for many other things such as wrapping clothes for travel, carrying a lunch to-go, and so much more. 

Typically, people use a square cloth. You want to make sure it is thick enough to hold the weight of the gift, and that the gift should be about a third of the size of the cloth measured diagonally. 

There are tons of helpful how-tos out there. Below is a compilation of a few different furoshiki wraps and how to create them from the Japanese Ministry of Environment (you can download a PDF version via the link). If these visuals aren’t enough to go on, try searching Youtube for a tutorial video. 

Furoshiki guide

Although you can purchase them, it’s fun and more environmentally sound to get creative when it comes to finding your furoshiki cloth:

  • Cut up an old sheet that is no longer useful for your bed
  • Get fabric scraps from someone who sews
  • Use a bandana or scarf you are ready to part with 
  • Check out your local thrift store

You can also add natural treasures to your furoshiki wrap for a little extra Earthy-sweetness!

If this cloth wrapping project totally lights you up, you may want to check out Bojagi, another form of cloth wrapping that comes from Korea. 

Reuse Old Gift-Wrap

Whenever you receive a gift beautifully wrapped in non-recyclable materials, and you can resist the temptation of ripping it to shreds in the process, save it for the next gift you give! In my home, we have a whole box of old gift bags, boxes and tissue paper ready to go. 

Repurpose Brown Paper Bags from the Grocery Store

For those of you who love to get crafty and have an eye for geometry, this is a really fun way to wrap gifts. I know most of us have a stack of paper bags stashed somewhere in the house from when we forgot to bring our favorite reusable shopping bags to the grocery store. 

All you need to do is cut the bag into one flat sheet, and you're good to go! You may need to use scraps to patch up the sides if your box is too big for the sheet, and you can cut or fold the rest into decorations for the package. It’s also fun to add a little personal spice by drawing on the wrapping, and of course you can always go with twine and Earth treasures to decorate your gift. 

When it comes to reducing waste and creating a better future, creativity and joy are key. Enjoy the process and let inspiration flow through you!

Along with any of these creative ways of wrapping, nature inspired wooden adornment on furishiki gift wrap
you may want to consider adding some of our nature-inspired adornments made in the USA from FSC certified Alder Wood.
They can be reused for future gifting, tree decoration,
or around your home!


  • Yet another trove of useful—and inspiring—information. Not only are your tips good for the environment, the end result also looks beautiful. (We don’t need sparkling plastic/paper for gifts to shine!). I must admit I was surprised to learn that in 2019, the U.S. spent $8.14 billion on wrapping paper. That’s just part of the cost of four-million tons of “waste paper” added to landfills every year. Let’s give nature a gift—by using only sustainable recyclable options for gift wrapping. Thanks again for adding Joy to our Planet.

  • Whatta pleasure to be reminded to sloooow down during these days- choose from an internal resonance and find deep joy in the process of gift giving!
    Thanks for the gift.
    Warmly, Valerie


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