Wrap it up in environmentally friendly ways!

The holiday season is officially here! Festive music, tempting treats, colourful decorations and gift giving! Although a most wonderful time of the year, generous gift giving can create a lot of waste.

You may be surprised to learn that gift wrap must be placed in the garbage after use. Even though it may look and feel like regular paper, wrapping paper contains various materials such as dyes, foil, glitter, adhesive and coatings that negatively impact our ability to recycle it.

So let’s explore some creative alternatives to disposable gift wrap that are more environmentally friendly.


This gift is wrapped in newspaper, which can go in the Blue Box for recycling.

First off, if you receive a gift with wrapping paper, the best thing to do is try to unwrap it carefully and save the wrap to reuse as many times as you can before it has to go into the garbage. The same goes for tissue paper and gift bags. Reuse, reuse, reuse! Then when they are at the end of their usable life, tissue paper can be placed in the GreenCart, while old gift bags must go in the garbage.

There are so many other items around the house that can be reused into gift wrap. Try out old newspapers, comic books, sheet music, magazines, last year’s calendars, outdated maps or maybe children’s artwork or pages from colouring books to wrap gifts in. Grandparents and relatives will love it! You can also make your own gift bags from these items as well.

Tupperware or other containers and dishes are another handy way to give a gift. Check out your local reuse store for any of these items. If you’re doing a lot of seasonal baking and planning on giving food related gifts, why not place them in a cooking dish or decorative container with a lid. That way, the container can be reused after the gift is enjoyed.

Gift Jar (iStock14818780)


You may find some items that would normally go into your Blue Box can make creative gift wrap ideas. Make sure any items you use are well cleaned and free from cracks or sharp edges! For example, recycling clean, used aluminum foil can add a shiny allure to your gift. If you have empty glass pasta sauce or pickle jars, peel the labels off and wash the inside and the lid thoroughly. You can then decorate the outside of the jar with paint, ribbon or tissue paper for a great gift container. Plus, there are so many great homemade gift ideas that come in a jar!

Gift within a Gift

Using different fabric items for wrapping gifts is a great way to wrap those odd-shaped or large items that are hard to cover with paper. You can use pillow cases, tea towels, clothes, bath towels or scarves. If you do not want to buy new, and are giving a gift to someone in your own home, use a pillowcase you already have. Tie it up with some ribbon and then put it back in the linen closet when you’re finished! In Japan you can learn the art of Furoshiki cloth wrapping. Why not try your hand at a few of these wraps for your gift giving this year! Finally, you can use fabric gift bags. You can make or purchase these bags, and again, they can be reused year after year.

Whether it’s reusable or recyclable, there are many eco-friendly ways to wrap up gifts. Choosing alternatives to traditional wrapping paper and bags can save you money and reduce waste. Also, make sure you save whatever you receive this season to use for that next round of gift giving!

That’s a wrap!

About Melynda Paterson

Hi I'm Melynda, a Waste Management Program Coordinator with Halton Region. I graduated from McMaster University with an honours degree in Geography and completed the Environmental Management graduate program at Niagara College. Some of my responsibilities include monitoring garbage bag limits and illegal dumping. Also, I help with multi-residential waste diversion programs and am the keeper of a database that houses important waste collection information for properties across the Region.
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4 Responses to Wrap it up in environmentally friendly ways!

  1. Pingback: Gifts with heart – recycled and unique | SAVES Club

  2. Pingback: All we want for Christmas… are environmentally friendly presents | HaltonRecycles

  3. Pingback: A Christmas card conundrum | HaltonRecycles

  4. Pingback: Will you be my green Valentine? | HaltonRecycles

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