Home » Eco friendly Gift Giving

Eco friendly Gift Giving

How many rolls of paper wrap do you buy each year to wrap your presents???  If you’re like most people, a lot… How many packs of cards do you buy and receive… Sure, paper is recyclable… but it’s still incredibly wasteful.  Some stats from Stanford university (yes, it’s American, but I’m too lazy to find if there are any equivilent Aussie ones, and it gives a pretty good indication of what sort of waste we “civilised” societies produce)

  • 25 million tons of extra waste is produced in America during the Thanksgiving to New Year period.  That’s 1 million tons each week more than the rest of the year.
  • If every family used reused materials to wrap gifts, rather than single use paper, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields
  • 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold each year, and that is enough to fill a football field to 10 stories high.
  • Sending just one less card would equate to saving 50,000 cubic yards of paper

Frankly, it’s horrifying…and I’m sure Australia is no better.  But if you still want to give lovely wrapped gifts and cards though, there is are better options!!



To be honest I’m not that keen on sending Xmas cards – I think it’s a terrible waste of paper, especially giving them to people I see frequently anyway… but since people tend to get snarky if you don’t send them, you can at least lessen the environmental impact….  Remember to recycle the cards you get, or give them to schools/playgroups etc. for craft.

  • E-Cards – Electronic cards.. google “Christmas ecards” for heaps of links.  Basically you just choose the design, type a message and e-mail it to your friends.  Easy and no paper wastage.
  • Recycled paper cards – Cards made from recycled paper.  There are several out there to choose from, like these, these and these.
  • Reuse Cards as post cards – Keep any cards you get where they have no writing on the inside cover, and cut off that front part.  Use that as a post card to send to someone else the following year.
  • Reusable Cards – Buy reusable cards (eg here, here, These are kinda cool, as they can get tracked so you can see where your card ends up [if people enter it in the website when they get it])
  • Make Fabric/Felt reusable cards   – My tutorial here  These cards get sent to someone else the following year, instead of being single use.



Everyone likes to open gifts, so just handing something unwrapped is a bit unexciting, but there are ways to make eco-friendly wrappings.

  • Kids artwork – When your kids do paintings or drawings on large pieces of paper, keep those to use as wrapping paper.
  • Butcher’s paper – If you get packages of meat from the deli/butcher that are wrapped in paper, carefully remove the sticker and keep the paper.  It can be printed with stamps or kids can draw on it to make it snazzy for wrapping.
  • Small Boxes – If you get boxes for tea, chocolates, shoes, tissues and other small things, save them to use for holding presents.  You can paint them, cover them in fabric scraps or turn them inside out to get rid of any markings.
  • Teatowels, handkerchiefs and facewashers – If you see these on special you can always use them to wrap items and they themselves become part of the gift.
  • Squares of fabric – Buy Xmas print fabrics when on special, or use cheaper red & green poplin/lawn.  You can even just cut them with pinking shears instead of sewing.  Use them as you would wrapping paper, just tie with ribbon instead of using stickytape.  Or use “Furoshiki” (Japanese term for how to wrap stuff in cloth)
  • Fabric gift bags – Make or buy fabric bags to hold gifts.  For kids presents, printed pillowcases make a great “sack”, and can be tied closed at the top with a ribbon.  Tutorial here.
  • Use paper gift bags instead of wrapping paper – gift bags are more likely to be reused.  Or you can make your own.
  • Newspaper – If you wrap it the right way, it can look awsome – see


Gift Tags

Chances are you’ll be giving gifts to the same people year after year, so why not consider some reusable gift tags, or at least not buying tags.  Some ideas:

  • Make clay tagshttp://www.elmstreetlife.com/2011/11/diy-reusable-gift-tags.html
  • Make Tags from old Xmas cards or wrapping paper – Save nice cards/paper, and cut tags from them. utm_campaign=Feed%3A+aspoonfulofsugardesigns%2FrnqK+%28A+Spoonful+of+Sugar%29
  • Make tags from cardboard – Buy a special gift tag punch (like this) or make a template and trace around it (if you make your template on some clear plastic, you’ll be able to see through it) and use it to punch out tags from anything – intesting bits of scenery from magazines, plain parts of cereal/cracker/tissue boxes… possibilities are endless!
  • Make reusable felt or fabric tags – Embroider or fabric paint the names onto tags you make from felt or fabric.
  • Make Chalkboard tags – you can buy chalkboard fabric, or just make heavy card or wooden tags and paint with chalkboard paint. – http://commonthreadskingston.blogspot.com/2010/12/re-usablechalk-board-gift-tags.html and http://www.prettyhandygirl.com/2010/12/creative-gift-wrapping-day-4.html
  • Make newspaper or book page tagshttp://www.curbly.com/users/chrisjob/posts/9507-how-to-make-easy-literary-leaf-gift-tags-free-template-included
  • Make plain paper tags and laminate them  – Get some nice paper and cut tag shapes, then laminate them.  Use a permanent marker or whiteboard marker to wrote the names on (permanent marker will rub off with a little metho on a cloth)
  • Make paper tags  with names already printed on and laminate them –  this is what I have done, I made basic tags with all the names of people we give presents to (and some people like the kids I made more than one tag so I could wrap a few presents for them), cut them out, laminated them and punched a hole in, and I thread a piece of string through the hole and that goes on the ribbon for their gifts.  I collect them and the fabric wrapping to use for next year’s gift.  You can download my gift cards here.

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