Every Christmas, people toss gift wrap scraps into their recycling bin without thinking twice. See why most wrapping paper belongs in the trash and what you can do to reduce waste.

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You might think you’re being mindful by recycling your wrapping paper scraps during the holiday season, but you may be doing more harm than good. Did you know that most wrapping paper isn't actually safe to recycle? Due to lamination, gold foil, glitter, and other decorative flourishes, gift wrap is actually pretty harmful to our environment.

kraft and floral paper-wrapped gifts and ribbon

And the same goes for bows, too. Traditional plastic-paper bows with sticky backing definitely don’t belong in the recycling bin. Ribbons don’t, either. The good news is that bows and ribbon are recyclable if you keep them in storage and use them year after year. Here’s a tip: Even if the sticky side of the bow has worn away, a little bit of tape folded into a roll will do the trick.

To help reduce waste, we searched for innovative gift wrap that is recyclable. Half the fun of opening a gift is tearing into the paper, and the choices below let you do that while still feeling good about the environment. Before you reach for that glittery metallic paper at the store, consider these recyclable gift wrapping products first.

gift wrap with red truck
Image courtesy of Amazon

Earth-Friendly Wrapping Paper Alternatives

1. Wrappily Wrapping Paper

Wrappily estimates the amount of wrapping paper that is thrown away during the holidays is enough to circle the globe—up to nine times! To make better gift wrap without sacrificing the fun holiday prints, Wrappily uses neighborhood newspaper presses to print gift wrap on newsprint. That means it’s guaranteed to be recyclable!

Kraft paper roll
Image courtesy of Amazon

2. Kraft Paper

Kraft paper is a recyclable wrapping paper alternative. Plus, it's made from recycled materials and is strong and durable. Leave it plain for a minimalist aesthetic, or give the kids some crayons and encourage them to decorate the wrapped gifts themselves. Plus, it’s incredibly affordable. Just one roll holds 100 feet of kraft paper!

floral wrapping paper
Image courtesy of Rifle Paper Co.

3. Rifle Paper Co. Wrapping Paper

We love Rifle Paper Co. for their bold floral prints. So we were thrilled to learn that their gift wrap is made with uncoated paper, making it better for the environment. Each order comes with three sheets of 19-1/2 x 27-inch paper, so save this pretty gift wrap for a few important presents.

deer wrapping paper
Image courtesy of Etsy

4. Re-Wrapped Wrapping Paper

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, make it yourself. At least that’s what the creators of Re-Wrapped did when they couldn’t find recycled wrapping paper that fit their needs. Now the Etsy shop sells a variety of beautiful patterns made from recycled, unbleached paper printed with vegetable inks.

Kraft Christmas gift wrap
Image courtesy of Amazon

5. Colorful Kraft Paper

Eco-friendly products aren’t always easy on your wallet, and when you’re just going to toss it in the recycling bin, it’s hard to justify a $10 roll of wrapping paper. That’s where kraft paper comes in handy. This kraft paper brings a little more festivity under the tree, as opposed to plain recycled paper. Buy a pack of 6 colorful rolls, a whopping 195 square feet of wrapping paper, for just $24.99!

    Comments (1)

    Better Homes & Gardens Member
    December 24, 2018
    For several years, a friend has been sending our gifts in handmade, cloth bags made with beautiful Christmas fabric and satin ribbon drawstrings. We now have a large collection of these bags in a variety of sizes, and reuse them every year. It's quick and easy just to pop a gift inside - no scissors, tape, or bows needed!