plastic free july
Sustainable Living

Plastic Free Gift Wrap

There are so many areas in our homes that create waste where we may not even notice it! Wrapping paper is one of those. Every time we wrap a present–whether it’s popping an item in a gift bag or using wrapping paper–we’re creating waste. Here are some ideas on how to minimize that waste with some practical and reusable wrapping ideas. With some simple ideas, you can easily use plastic free gift wrap.

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Plastic Free Gift Wrap Alternatives

Some easy and fun ways to wrap your gifts in plastic free, zero-waste ways:

  • Cloth–this could be anything from a tea towel wrapped around the gift and secured with a ribbon or a scarf clipped in place with a brooch.
  • Newspaper–use newspaper just like wrapping paper. Any page can be interesting, but I particularly like to use the comics or even the classified ads.
  • Mason Jar–mason jars get used for everything these days, so why not wrapping a present! These are a great alternative to gift bags for smaller items. If you want to disguise what’s inside, you could always line the jar with newspaper.
  • Cookie Tins–if you need a gift box, why not take a quick spin around your second hand store for some vintage tins.
  • Decorated Paper–do you have an old greeting card or a pretty calendar hanging around? Follow these Wiki How instructions to make a little box out of them. A pretty calendar or magazine page could be used as wrapping paper for a small item too.

Plastic Free Gift Wrap DIYs

We love do-it-yourself projects for reducing waste. Reusing items are a great way to keep things out of the landfills. So when thinking of plastic free gift wrap, it was natural to include a couple of DIY projects! Skip the plastic lined bows and bags and give making your own a try with these ideas.

DIY Handmade Bows

I think a handmade touch makes a gift extra special. One way to do that is to make your own bows! For these, you can use pretty much any paper you have: decorative craft paper, pages from magazines, newspaper, or even pages from books.

  • Magazine pages or other paper
  • Scissors
  • Paper Cutter
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Tape
  • Glue Gun (optional)
  • Stapler
  1. Choose a fun, colourful page from a magazine or your preferred type of paper
  2. Cut 1/2-inch wide strips in the following lengths:
    – 1 x 1″
    – 2 x 7″
    – 2 x 6 1/2″
    – 2 x 6″
    – 2 x 5 1/2″
    (I’ve noticed that depending on the thickness of the paper I’m using, the sizes and number of the strips need to vary.)
  3. Fold all strips–except the single 1″ strip–in half
  4. Take each individual strip and twist the end to meet up the middle fold. Tape each end in the middle so you have two points. Continue with all strips.
  5. Place each pair of folded pieces of paper together so you have an “X.”
  6. Stack the X’s on top of each other with largest on the bottom.
  7. Staple in the middle to secure the stack together. Fluff up the points of the bow if they’ve been pressed in the stapling.
  8. Take the remaining 1″ strip and make a ring, taping to secure it closed.
  9. Secure ring in the center of the bow by glue gun or tape.

We’ve not had the chance to test this out yet, but we’ve been reading about Washi Tape which is made from paper for a plastic free option to this DIY.

DIY Bows Tutorial (sorry some of the screen cut out my instructions!)

DIY Gift Bag

A lot of waste in my house comes from food packaging. While boxes can be recycled, I’m a fan of reusing items before they have to be tossed to the recycle bin. Reusing and transforming an item means that you keep from buying something unnecessary too–that saves you money and saves the environment too.

  • Food boxes or other similar box
  • Glue Gun
  • Stamps, felts, crayons, anything you’d like to use to decorate the gift bag
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch
  • Ribbon
How to make a gift bag out of a box:
  1. Choose a food box and dismantle it so it lays flat
  2. (Optional step) Decorate the box. Draw a picture, use stamps, get creative!
  3. Fold box back together so the decorated (or plain) side is on the outside.
  4. Cut off excess flaps of cardboard from side that will be the top of the gift bag
  5. Use your glue gun to glue the box together.
  6. Crease each side of the box at the top.
  7. If you would like to add handles, punch two holes on each side of the bag.
  8. Add ribbon for handles, tying knots to keep the handle in place.
DIY Gift Bag Tutorial

If you love the look of minimalist gift wrap with an eco-friendly twist, check out Lynn Mumbing Mejia‘s post Easy Minimalist Gift Wrapping.

Do you have a favourite plastic free gift wrap option? What plastic free or upcycled materials do you use for gift wrapping?

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  • Lisa Alioto

    Love these ideas – I’ve already started using some of them myself already but you definitely gave me some new ones as well

  • Ming Qian

    I love the video and your step by step guide to sustainable gift wrapping! I haven’t wrapped a gift in so long. I keep paper bags that I get from shops, every one of them unless they’re torn. I use them as gift bags instead. Thanks for sharing!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Reusing paper bags is a fantastic idea! That’s a great way to reduce waste πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

  • laurabooksandblogs

    I definitely want to try the homemade bows. I’m always looking for environmentally friendly substitutes. So, this has been really helpful. Thanks!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thank you! If we all do our little bit, it sure does add up to make a difference. I love having houseplants too! I’ll take a look at your post πŸ™‚

  • Nancy

    I love that you talk about sustainable alternatives to traditional gift wraps. Very interesting with the cloth!! I need to give this a try next time. I love that you can make bows with some leftover sheets. Love these ideas! I love giving gifts but feel bad for one-time use wraps and such. I try to reuse tissue paper as much as I can. Thanks for sharing the tutorials!

    Nancy ✨

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      That’s awesome you reuse your paper! It’s a great way to minimize waste. πŸ™‚ I’m glad to hear you liked some of these ideas and might try some! πŸ™‚

  • Grislean

    Omg this is exactly what I needed! I’ll try them out this year for Christmas and birthdays. I always feel so bad when all the wrapping paper and ribbons and such are all tossed in bagfuls during Christmas. It’s a waste bc it’s a one time use so I love your ideas!

    Grislean |

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Oh, I’m so glad this was helpful! Wrapping can be so wasteful and feels even moreso if you’re trying to give zero waste presents. If you give any of the options a try, I’d love to see what you do! πŸ™‚

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!