The Best Way to Get Rid of All Your Holiday Gift Wrap

holiday gift wrap


The winter holidays are here, and they’re brimming with holiday cheer. Unfortunately, the winter holidays are also brimming with waste! Here in the U.S., we generate an extra one million tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Trash might not be at the top of your holiday priorities, but this quick guide will give you all the information you need to dispose of gift wrap correctly — and even help you reduce the waste you create in the first place.

Wrapping Paper

If it has metallic foil or has glitter: This wrapping paper is not recyclable. Toss it in the trash.

If it is plain: This wrapping paper can be recycled — just remove excess tape first.

Reduce: Avoid wrapping paper with foil or glitter, and don’t toss wrapping paper after it’s been used — fold it and put it away for next year. You can also consider buying wrapping paper made from recycled material.

If you want to cut down on waste even further, wrap your presents with newspaper, scrap paper, or reusable fabric. Wrapping gifts in fabric is both beautiful and eco-friendly. It’s very popular in Japan, where they call it furoshiki. Download this PDF guide to learn how to wrap anything by furoshiki. Or, check out Pinterest for more fabric-wrapping ideas.

Bows, Ribbon and Tinsel

Bows, ribbon and tinsel cannot be recycled. Toss them in the trash.

Reduce: Save your decorations and reuse them next year! Bows can always be taped onto a new package. You can also add used decorations to your arts and crafts supply for a future project.

Gift Bags

Gift bags aren’t always recyclable. If your gift bag is glossy, that means it’s made from a plastic-paper combination, and it needs to go in the trash. If your gift bag isn’t glossy, and it doesn’t have metallic foil or glitter, it can be recycled. Remove all ribbons and bows before putting it in your recycling.

Reduce: Return your gift bag to the sender to reuse, or save the gift bag and regift it next year. Gift bags can also be handy for storing items around the house or bringing things along on car trips.

Tissue Paper

Tissue paper cannot be recycled. Toss it in the trash.

Reduce: Save your tissue paper for next year if it’s in OK shape. If it’s a little on the battered side, save it to use as packing material the next time you’re sending a package or putting something into storage.

You can also skip buying tissue paper altogether. Try cutting up an old magazine or other recyclable paper (such as regular paper or even newspaper) to use for your gifts instead.

Want more ideas for how to make your holiday eco-friendly? Check out our guide to minimalist gift-giving.