Sustainable Gift Wrapping

Sustainable Gift Wrapping

Christmas is one of the most wasteful time of year.  From wrapping paper to ribbons, an immense amount of waste is created each year during the holidays.  In the US alone, an average of 25 million tons of garbage is thrown away from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, which is an extra 25% more trash than any other time of year.  Thankfully there are many beautiful and eco-friendly alternatives for wrapping up your Christmas gifts this year.

“Zero Waste Canada, a Vancouver-based advocacy group, estimates each Canadian tosses about 50 kilograms of garbage over the holidays, 25 per cent more than the rest of the year, thanks to the purchase of 3,000 tonnes of foil, 2.6 billion Christmas cards and six millions rolls of tape.   Altogether, 540,000 tonnes of wrapping paper and gift bags are thrown out each year.”



Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, and additionally a style of gift wrapping.  It can be used to wrap gifts of any size and shape. A variety of techniques and designs are used to make every gift unique.  The wrap itself can be incorporated into the gift, such as a baby blanket for a baby gift, or a tea towel for a kitchen gift. Check out these tips and techniques:   

See the video below for instructions.



A recyclable, on-hand gift wrap could be newspaper.  Use the comic section of the newspaper to give your gift some character and colour, or use the traditional black and white print for a clean, simple appearance.  It is great for wrapping gifts last minute while travelling or to give a second life to the newspaper in the recycle bin! Other on-hand wrapping options could include magazines or old books.





One of my favourite ways to wrap gifts is to use maps.  We tend to grab maps when travelling, so we usually have a variety on hand.  Maps are great for wrapping gifts for those who like to travel.  You can find maps in old magazines, second-hand stores, or in National Geographic books.



Paper Grocery Bags

Another great way to wrap gifts is by using paper grocery bags.  Whether the paper bag is crinkled or folded, it will give your gift a little texture.  If there are any markings or logos on the bags, you can turn them inside out, or cover them with decorations. This gives those paper bags a second life!



Dish Towels

Make the wrapping part of the present by using a dish towel or similar for your gift wrapping.  Dish towels, pillowcases, a scarf, even a sheet for a large gift can be used instead of paper.




Whenever you are given a gift and it is wrapped in wrapping paper, a gift bag, or tissue, carefully unwrap it and fold it up to be reused.  Encourage your friends to do the same, as it will save money and the planet; and what’s better than those two things? A majority of wrapping paper and bags are not recyclable due to the foil and/or microplastic that are embedded in the paper.  Using these to their fullest will eliminate large amounts of waste from the landfill each year.



Ties and Embellishments

Try to keep your tape to a minimum by using a natural string or twine to wrap up your gifts.  If tape is used, be sure to remove it from the paper before recycling.  Decorate your wrapped gifts with branches from trees, pinecones or dried oranges for a lovely natural touch.  Using sprigs of herbs or cinnamon sticks can bring an aroma to your gifts, and a holiday feeling!

Christmas Present Adornments


How will you be wrapping your gifts this year?


Sustainable Gift Ideas for the Holidays – Part 1

Sustainable Gift Ideas for the Holidays – Part 1

The biggest way to be more sustainable during this highly wasteful holiday is to buy less stuff this year.  Make a commitment to buy fewer gifts overall this holiday season.   With the added financial pressure that many people are facing this year, this is a great consideration for the planet and our bank accounts.

  • buy less per person
  • do a name draw within your friend or family group so that you don’t have to buy for everyone
  • Presence not Presents
    • agree to no gifts, just spend time together (people may be relieved by not having as many gift obligations).  Ok, I realize this may be challenging; spending time together or travelling to be together may be restricted at this time.  However, get creative – zoom or phone calls can help us be “together” when we need to be apart.  Another idea is to have Christmas in January instead.

Here are some gift ideas to help you be kinder to the planet this holiday season.


In our family, have an overall theme to guide us with presents each year and in 2019 we chose Intangibles.  All of our gifts had to be things that you can’t hold.  This forced us to be creative in new ways.

Here are some of the intangibles we came up within our family:

  • ring tones/alarms (My son is a musician so he recorded original ring tones and alarms for all of us)
  • distillery and beer tour (We were headed to Canmore that January so it was a timely gift – they called it the Canmore Minivan Booze Cruise)
  • concert tickets (of course, these ended up being cancelled with the pandemic, but it’s the thought that counts!)
  • gift card for the floatplane – to get to Vancouver for the concerts
  • glass blowing experience


  • jesse-martini-Fqitf0RhKic-unsplash

custom ringtones by





Choose a charity that is important to your loved one.  Make a donation in their name.  (We have done this for birthdays in the past – One time it was the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre where you can adopt an animal.  They send you updates on that animal for the next year!)

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It would be great if we could normalize giving used items for gifts.  Manufacturing, packing and shipping new items continually puts a lot of strain on our planet.  Lots of great things already exist.  Call it vintage and it makes it cooler somehow!




I love that there has been a growing movement over the years to support local businesses.  It’s becoming an even larger focus this year during the pandemic when so many small businesses are struggling.  Supporting local keeps money in your community and it also helps reduce shipping products around our globe.  Small, local businesses need your support more than Amazon, Walmart, Costco, etc. so spend your money thoughtfully this season. (This is our family theme for gifts this year – Local Businesses only!  I’ll update this after the holidays with what we came up with.)

Shop local where you live



Instead of more stuff, gift them with time.  Offer up some babysitting, chauffeuring, dog-walking or fix something that needs repair.   Be creative.  Time is more valuable than things!  The older you get the more you realize that.

Photo from Unsplash jon-tyson-FlHdnPO6dlw-unsplash



Want to make the holidays even more sustainable?  Here are some Christmas tree alternatives.


Sustainable Christmas Tree: Alternatives

Sustainable Christmas Tree: Alternatives

If you’re wanting to switch things up this year, try these Christmas tree alternatives.  They are all eco-friendly, gorgeous and can easily replace a real or artificial tree. 

I have covered the pros and cons of real and artificial trees in my last blog post and if those aren’t what you’re looking for this Christmas, check these out. 


Potted Christmas Tree:

A potted Christmas tree gives you the feeling of a real Christmas tree, without having to chop down a tree. These trees can only withstand being inside for a few days but can be replanted outdoors in the springtime.   (photo courtesy of Café Mom)

Potted Christmas Tree


Alternatively, choosing a plant that will live as a houseplant will work just as well. Who says a Christmas tree can’t be a palm tree?  You could even decorate a tree outdoors with eco-friendly decorations. (photo courtesy of Reddit)

Decorated Houseplants

Driftwood Tree:

This is a great DIY for those who live near the beach. Being flat, and wall-hung, this tree is great for people with less space in their homes.  Make this tree with friends or family and you will have a unique and handmade memory for years! (photo courtesy of Tiny Partments)

Driftwood Christmas Tree


A potted rosemary tree makes a great counter/tabletop tree. Decorate with some lights and ornaments and you have a mini Christmas tree.  Its fragrant needles can make the house smell amazing, and can also be used for holiday cooking/baking. (photo courtesy of The Greener Girl)

Rosemary Christmas Tree

Vase of Branches:

Collect some branches and place them in a vase for an easy, tabletop Christmas tree. Find branches with lots of little branches and hooks, so hanging lights and ornaments is easier.  Using as little or as many branches as you’d like makes this a completely customizable piece! It can even be used as a centrepiece. (photo courtesy of Lonny)

Vase of Decorative Branches

Hanging Branch:

Finding a large branch with lots of needles, hang it on the wall, and decorate with lights and ornaments.  This option is great for space-saving and will give you the feeling of a real Christmas tree with the aroma and look of the branch.  (Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

Decorated Holiday Branch