While giving someone you care about a physical token of appreciation is one of the finest forms of conventional flattery, much like your feelings, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. To state it simply, no one holds onto the wrappings. From winter holidays, to Valentines, to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthdays throughout the whole 365 day calendar, we give a lot of gifts. So, in order to keep your generosity from placing a strain on Mother Earth, it’s important to not only put thought into your present, but also how you present it. Here are three suggestions of eco-friendly wrapping solutions:

black and red cloth bag with a tag that read eric, spring themed reusable bag with a tag that reads tracey

1. Reusable Cloth Bags

Sometimes you want a fun, funky print, and that’s ok! Walking through any Hallmark or department store gift section, you’ll find a plethora of colorful papers or glitter (don’t even get us started) covered bags. While these are festive, and some careful un-wrappers reuse, there is a better way, one that isn’t reliant on paper bag handles not failing you. Cloth bags come in designs for any taste or occassion, have a longer lifespan than your rolls of paper, and they don’t require tissue to conceal their contents. Instead, you simply sinch them shut. Even for novice crafters these are simple to sew together, or you can opt to support a small business and buy from one of the many Etsy sellers. You can ask for them back after the present is opened or let your recipient keep it as an educative, eco-friendly bestowal that they can continue to pass along. You can also do this with reusable tote or shopping bags. If you are giving multiple gifts and need to distinguish them, and you often give to the same circle of people, consider getting wooden name tags that you can tie to the bags for years to come. 

two boxes wrapped in black and white paper on top of a newspaper

2. Go Old School

Remember when your older family member gave you presents wrapped in the previous Sunday’s cartoon section? They might have been onto something! Why pay money for fancy prints that are just going to be ripped off? Use that extra coin on the gift itself. There is often something stashed away in your home that you can use to wrap your next present. Dig through your recycling or cut up a paper bag. Flip it inside out to save on a card and write directly on the wrappings. My personal favorite is to use the decorative paper that encloses my bamboo toilet paper. It can help you spark a conversation on other eco-friendly topics! Bonus points if you can use paper tape, nifty folding techniques, or a reusable ribbon in lieu of plastic tape to hold your paper shut.  

potted plant, a man on a rock climbing wall, a chocolate cake with a slice cut out and on a plate

3. Go Naked

No, no, we don’t mean you (though I suppose… nevermind, let’s not go there). While no gift needs wrapping, there are some options that lend themselves to easily go without. Potted plants are eco-friendly, straightforward to simply hand over, and something someone can never have too many of. Similarly, gifts such as bottles of wine or local bakery consumables do not need additional wrapping. Or, go for an experience gift. Offer to treat a friend to dinner for their birthday, plant a garden for a grandparent, or gift passes to a rock climbing gym to a niece or nephew. Focusing on the experience instead of material possessions is a great way to shift the gift giving narrative to one of quality time. Nowadays, it’s becoming more and more popular on wedding websites, such as theknot.com, to see couples registering for honeymoon or new house funds. By giving to those, you know that the couple will get an experience they want and you don’t have to guess whether or not that pottery you were eyeing will match their interior design style. 

All in all, you’re a good friend, family member, or co-worker for wanting to show someone you care with a gift. Don’t overstress on colorful bows and ribbons and just keep a couple of these simple solutions on hand for your next holiday, birthday party, or baby shower!