Holiday gifts

Holiday gift-giving can leave you with piles of hard-to-recycle wrapping paper, bows, and bags, but showing loved ones you care doesn’t have to mean overfilled trash bins. To get you started in your waste-free giving endeavors, Earth911 compiled this list of 11 alternative wrapping solutions you can buy or make yourself.

Originally published on December 3, 2013, this article was updated in December 2018.

Image courtesy of BOBO
Image courtesy of BOBO

Buy It: Reusable Fabric Gift Wraps

For a pretty and paper-free gift wrapping solution, look no further than these lovely Furoshiki reusable fabric gift wraps from BOBO.

Each shiny wrapping scarf can be tied up in a variety of ways for the look that suits you best, and they can be used as everything from hobo bags to halter tops after the holidays. Check out BOBO’s how-to section for gift wrapping and reuse tutorials to get you started.


Image courtesy of Lisa /
Image courtesy of Lisa /

DIY It: No-Sew Fabric Gift Bags

These reusable fabric gift bags can be made in mere minutes with a few basic, low-cost materials, including decorative fabric and double-sided fabric tape — and requires no sewing! You can easily pull this off even if you’re not the best with a needle and thread.

After giving your gifts in these cute bags, friends and family can save them for future gift-giving or reuse them around the house — making them almost zero waste.

For step-by-step instructions on how to make these yourself, head to The Red Thread.

Image courtesy of Abby Rudakov/Things for Boys
Image courtesy of Abby Rudakov/Things for Boys

DIY It: Tea Towel Gift Wrap

Making the wrapping part of the gift itself is a great way to ensure nothing goes to waste.

We love this cute tea towel wrapping idea from Abby Rudakov of Things for Boys — which is perfect for cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, and all those special gifts for the foodie in your life.

“Paper wrapping always makes me sad when I see the huge pile after everyone has unwrapped their gifts!” Rudakov said. Her inventive wrapping solution takes only a few minutes to make, and your friends are sure to love it.

For step-by-step instructions on how to do it yourself, head to Things for Boys.

plantable seed gift tags
Plantable seed paper gift tags. Image courtesy of DaisyGiggles, Etsy

Buy It: Seed Paper Gift Tags

For a low-impact way to mark your gifts, consider gift tags made from plantable seed paper like these tags from DaisyGiggles on Etsy. The tags are embedded with a mixture of wildflower seeds and will bloom after planted.

You can find a variety of styles and shapes available from Etsy retailers to perfectly match your gift wrapping style.


By Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.