As the holiday season approaches and gift shopping begins, not only do stores fill with customers but the environment strains with the inevitable waste of this otherwise joyous time of year. North Americans are slowly changing our ways, however, and one way to give back to the world this year is to practice sustainable gift-wrapping.

While no one’s about to give up wrapping entirely, gift-givers are reusing their gift-wrap and demanding more eco-friendly options, according to a recent study conducted by Asia Pulp & Paper Canada (APP), one of the world’s largest paper companies. Nearly all Canadians (95%) support the movement towards more environmentally friendly gift-wrapping.

The survey, led by Opinion Research Corporation International (ORC), was completed in late September 2014, and interviewed about 1,000 Canadians and 1,000 Americans.

Of those who reuse paper products, gift bags were listed first (85%), followed by boxes (74%), and wrapping paper (59%). Almost all women (92%) said that they would reuse paper gift-wrapping, which is significantly higher than the percentage of men (79%).

Half of Canadians (50%) said that they plan to seek out more eco-friendly gift-wrap, compared to forty-one per cent of Americans; this statistic remains more-or-less consistent across generations.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of Canadians prefer gifts with more environmentally friendly packaging, whereas only half of Americans (52%) are committed to this approach.

Here are eight ideas for reducing your wrapping waste.

1. Reuse or recycle your wrapping paper, bags, boxes and tissue paper.

Tips: Break out the new paper for large presents, and avoid stickers or writing directly on the paper. Ribbon and tags are your friends.

Pile of christmas gifts
All of these could be wrapped in previously-used paper and you'd never know!
Photo: CC BY 3.0


2. Don't forget the shopping waste: use a reusable tote bag for your holiday shopping, available at most grocery stores and shopping centers.

Reusable bag with "resuse" written on it.
You probably have a couple dozen of these already – use 'em!
Photo: Aaron Warren. CC BY-ND 2.0 \ Flickr


3. If you purchase something fragile wrapped in tissue, reuse it for your gift-wrapping!

Presents wrapped in tissue and newspaper.
Photo by Katherine. CC BY-ND 2.0 \ Flickr


4. Try making drawstring bags for your gifts; they’re simple, reusable and perfect for those oddly shaped presents.

handmade drawstring bags
Photo by Angela. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 \ Flickr


Find more ideas on our Green Gift Wrap Pinterest board.


5. Save brown packing paper to wrap your presents, and decorate them using string and a piece of holly, bells, a doily or a candy cane.

Packages in brown paper with string and bells.
Photo by Tim McFarlane. CC BY-ND 2.0 \ Flickr


6. Save the comics from your newspaper for fun (and free!) gift-wrap.

Present wrapped in brown paper with comic bow and cutouts revealing comics underneath.
Or combine comics with brown paper!
Photo by najjie. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 \ Flickr


7. The Keeper of the Home blog suggests a unique wrapping idea for scarf lovers: use one you’re gifting to wrap the rest of the present and tie with a ribbon.

Gifts wrapped in fabric.
Take a tip from traditional Korean gift wrapping.
Photo © kei u \ Fotolia


8. Make a homemade baking mix, hot chocolate mix, body scrub, or lotion in a jam or Mason jar, and finish with a bow for a really thoughtful, thrifty and reusable option.

Here’s one inexpensive and creative mason jar idea from the blog Mommy Musings:


Peppermint Sugar Scrub

  • 2 cups white or cane sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • Red food coloring
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Mason jar


  1. Mix sugar and coconut oil in a medium mixing bowl until desired consistency is reached
  2. Add a few drops of the peppermint essential oil
  3. Divide into two equal portions
  4. Add one or two drops of food coloring into one portion
  5. Alternate white and pink layers in a Mason jar for the candy-cane effect (push down sugar to compact)

Christmas shopping can be hard on both your wallet and the environment. By making some simple changes to your gift-wrapping, you will be contributing to the green movement this holiday season.

Stay safe and warm this winter, and remember: reduce, reuse and recycle!

More wrapping ideas

More gift-in-a-jar ideas

Read the rest of A\J's Winter Holiday Survival Guide:

Elise Marion has a masters in Comparative Literature from Dublin City University and a bachelors degree in English and Classics from McMaster University, and is keenly pursuing a literary career.

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