Zero Waste Living

Zero Waste Challenge – Week 6 – 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Gift Wrap Waste


Another week, another zero waste challenge update! Before I start, if you are new to this blog (welcome!) or the zero waste challenge (or just want a refresher), here are some previous posts you might be interested in:


Week 1 – An introduction to the challenge!

Week 2 – Our first weigh in

Week 3 – 3 Easy Ways to Start your Own Challenge (or just start weighing your trash)

Week 4 – Our favorite zero-waste products so far 

Week 5 – 12 Resources for things you can do in 5 minutes or less to reduce waste + 2 free printables


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Here are our results from the past week:


Do you notice a HUGE jump this past week? Yeah, it was a little shocking. The reason for the jump in trash/recycling was because we celebrated Little E’s birthday over the weekend. We had friends and family over for meals, and we also had gifts for Little E.



I think in the back of my mind I knew gift giving/exchanging would be high in waste, but I don’t think I realized just how much until I saw the ‘aftermath’ (I say that in the most loving and caring way). From wrapping paper, tissue paper, bags and product packaging, I couldn’t believe the amount of waste it all produced. As the numbers reflect, we did try to recycle as much as possible as our recycling number was up from previous weeks, but a lot ended up in the trash.



After reflecting on the weekend, I tried to think of some ways moving forward to reduce waste through our gift giving. I personally think it would be rude to try and manipulate how others wrap their gifts for us. They are gracious enough to give us a gift, and we are lucky to receive one. That is not something we take for granted or expect. In this post, I am not going to go into detail about gift giving (I talk a little bit about mindful gift giving in this post). I wanted this post to be about reducing/recycling/reusing gift wrap specifically because we can’t always control what others give to us.  Additionally, some people enjoy the aspect of wrapping and giving gifts and may want to know ways to reduce waste while still doing so. Below are five of the ways I came up with:

  • Reuse gift bags and tissue paper – Personally, we save any gift bags we receive. The ones that are in good condition, we use in gifting an item to someone else. If we have any that are in not-so-good condition but still usable, we keep those for exchanging gifts between ourselves. With just this tip alone, our family has saved a ton of money by not buying bags/wrapping paper. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time we bought any!


  • Gift wrap – There is a lot of recycled gift wraps out there. There is brown kraft paper which is made with 100% recycled materials, or there is eco-friendly wrapping paper made with recyclable and compostable materials (they come in really cute prints too!).


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  • Reuse other materials for gift wrapping – Newspaper is a material that always comes to mind first (anyone else ever give or receive gifts wrapped in the newspaper comics? Other things I’ve seen used as wrapping are old maps or fabrics. You can decorate a plain brown box and turn it into a fun gift box. Another option is to gift an item in a reusable storage container such as a cute basket or a fun tin.


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  • Reuse gift wrap – One of the things I did after getting a lot of wrapping paper for Little E’s presents was to try and figure out ways to reuse it. I ended up having some breakable items that I needed to pack up and I used the used wrapping paper to wrap the items for safe-keeping.


  • Experiences – Ok, I know I said this post wouldn’t be specifically about gift giving. But I feel like I at least need to address one thing about gift giving that will help reduce waste. If anyone asks for gift ideas for us, we often tell them we would love to spend time with them experiencing something new. Whether it’s a visit to a local museum, a hike on a new trail, or even just trying a new restaurant, it’s a win-win. Alternatively, we can also gift experiences for others.


What tips do you have for reusing gift wrap? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


PS: Exciting news (well, to us): we are getting our compost bin on Friday! I am hoping we will be able to start composting this weekend!

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Jen |My Healthy Homemade Life

I usually save gift bags and the tissue paper but I’ve never thought of saving the gift wrap. I keep thinking it might be useful in a craft project for gift giving.


What a great post! Love this challenge!


Such great ideas! We make a huge effort to reduce our waste daily with composting and recycling or reusing. But yes, the gift wrap situation gets OUT-of-CONTROL!


Several years ago my daughter and I made different size gift bags from material that was on sale. So nice not to spend tons of money every year on gift wrap.

Nicole | Glamorously You

I love giving gifts in things that can be reused, like baskets or mason jars. It’s almost like giving the person an extra gift! Great post 🙂


These are SUCH a great ideas! We also save give bags/bows/etc. Also, when we moved in with my MIL, she wouldn’t let me do any kind of gardening, so I am SO excited about our new house being built. The first thing I’m going to do is start planning the garden, and the compost pile! I actually tear up throwing banana peels away.

Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

We are always saving and reusing our gift wraps, boxes, etc!

Laura | The Yellow Birdhouse

We always saved every scrap of wrapping paper when we were growing up, we never ripped it! My husband teases me for it, but it’s a habit I can’t break!


I haven’t thought of saving gift wrap. I save gift bags and some tissue paper, but haven’t considered this. Thanks!


I try and keep bags that I get from people because it really is nice to re-use them! I’m with you on gifting experiences over material goods too though.



We also save some of the nice bows and ribbons that we get on gifts from others and reuse them between my wife and I. Regarding composting…I loved composting when we lived up north. I made 2 compost bins out of used pallets and would throw grass clippings, leaves, veggie peels, leftover veggies, loose tea, coffee grinds, etc in it. I would also throw any worms I could find in my yard in there as well. The result was always the best materials to mix in my garden. We now live in a gated community, so none of that is… Read more »


[…] Week 6– 5 easy ways to reduce gift wrap waste […]


[…] Week 6– 5 easy ways to reduce gift wrap waste […]


[…] For tips on reducing gift wrap waste, check out my post on that topic here. […]


[…] In preparation for the upcoming holiday season, I wanted to refresh my tips on reducing gift wrap waste, or zero-waste friendly gift wrapping options (I originally posted about this a couple of months ago after Little E’s birthday party). If you want to view the original post, you can view it here. […]