How To Get Through The Holidays A Little Bit More Waste Free

By Laura from The Mindful Momma Blographer

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Gift giving season is right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but not only am I planning for holiday gift giving, but I also have a large number of friends and family members who have birthdays in October, November, and December. Let’s not forget the ever generous hostess gifts for those hosting fun gatherings and parties. All these events add up to a lot of gifts, and a lot of wrapping!

If you haven’t noticed, traditional gift wrap can create a lot of waste. Wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, bows, ribbons, etc. all quickly pile up after a celebration. Due to the way many of these materials are dyed, and produced, they can’t be recycled (which means they end up in the landfill).

In fact, the data is pretty startling:

In a Wall Street Journal article from 2012 (this was the most recent set of statistics I could find), “gift wrapping sales in the U.S. totaled $9.36 billion in 2010 (more than the combined GDP of Africa’s 9 poorest countries).”

In another article, it is estimated that we produce 4 million pounds of gift wrap waste each year, which is enough to fill 5,787 football fields.

That is a LOT of waste!

The good news is there are some great alternatives out there! Check out a few tips for reducing your gift wrap waste this holiday season:

100% recycled wrapping paper

As I mentioned above, many of the traditional wrapping paper options in the store can’t be recycled due to glitters, dyes, etc. That being said, there are wrapping paper options that are made with 100% recycled paper, and can be sent back to the recycling with confidence. Look for rolls marked with 100% recycled paper in stores or online.

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Reusable bags

Reusable bags can be a fun way to present a gift, AND the recipient can use the bag all year long! You may have extra cloth bags, or grocery store bags laying around. They can easily be found second hand through garage sales, thrift shops, or from family and friends (just ask!).

Brown kraft paper

Another 100% recyclable option is to buy a roll of brown kraft paper. I personally love this option because it allows for some fun decorating! I love having my son color over the packages. It gives the gift an extra special touch. You can also decorate with natural elements such as pine boughs, pine cones, berry stems, etc. You can find brown craft paper at any craft supply store or online.

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Fabric can be a fun way to wrap gifts, and can be reused again and again, or made into something else! You may have some laying around, OR you can find some at second hand stores. Ask around! You will be amazed what your friends and family are willing to part with.

Get creative with your packaging

Find a cute basket at a thrift shop? Have a fun storage container at home you’re not using anymore? These can all be a fun way to ‘wrap’ a gift. Even better, the recipient can reuse the container!

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Reuse gift bags!

I haven’t had to buy any gift bags in years. That’s because I am a stickler about saving any and all that I can. I’m even the person pulling them out of the trash at gatherings. I have found you can get so many uses out of one single bag, that it’s silly to throw them out and buy new ones if you don’t have to! If you don’t already, start saving those things (and save money while you’re at it!).

Cookie tins

Cookie tins are a super fun way to wrap a gift. Not only are they festive, but they can be reused by the recipient. Not only that, but they are readily available at garage sales and thrift/second-hand shops. Like with all of these things, you can even try asking friends/family if they have any extra they want to part with!


Maps, posters, newspaper, and magazines can be great wrapping paper alternatives. Bonus - they can be recycled afterwards!

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There are so many zero waste wrapping options that can help reduce waste (and save money!), and still allow you to enjoy everything that come with gift giving and receiving this holiday season. Happy holidays!

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Meet the Staff

Laura Durenberger is the creator behind The Mindful Mom Blographer, a lifestyle blog aimed at helping others reduce mental clutter through mindful and intentional living, minimalism, and zero waste living. While encouraging an overall mindset of 'reducing', Laura hopes to show that it's not about taking on more to achieve a harmonious balance in life, but by simply removing in a sustainable way.