Dear Dot: Any Ideas for Earth-Friendly Wrapping Paper?



Dear Dot,

My 10-year-old daughter is very eco-conscious and doesn’t want her gifts wrapped in anything that isn’t “compostable, recycled, or reusable.” I love the look of brightly wrapped gifts beneath the tree — preferably in coordinating patterns, thanks to being indoctrinated by Martha Stewart over the years. Ideas?


Dear Evelyn,

In my early 20s, I spent a Christmas morning with my then-boyfriend’s family watching them tear open their gifts like savages. In the corner grew a pile of the now useless wrapping paper, which was later tossed into the fireplace. I was aghast. I had been trained to carefully open my gifts without so much as a tear in the paper, which Mother Dot would carefully fold up and tuck away until the next year, when it would be used to wrap another gift that would be carefully unwrapped. Consequently, gifts we were opening in the 80s came wrapped in paper that dated back to the advent of the women’s liberation movement, which never has freed women from the emotional labor of gift-purchasing and wrapping. But I digress. 

I laud your daughter’s desire to wrap mindfully. 

While some wrapping paper is recyclable (if you can tear it or it stays scrunched up when you crumple it, it’s likely recyclable), plenty isn’t, including anything that’s foil, glittery, metallic, or contains rope or ribbons (such as gift bags). 

Lucky for your daughter — and you with your Martha Stewart ethos — wrapping options are not only sustainable but stylish:

You can opt for perfectly plain, by using Kraft paper that, if it isn’t coated, is both biodegradable or recyclable, or you can purchase recycled Kraft paper. Add pretty ribbon (which can, of course, be reused), perhaps a sprig of holly or a pine cone, and you’ve got gift wrap that’s both elegant and eco-friendly.

If you sew, it’s a cinch to create your own endlessly reusable cloth gift bags — or tap one of the many creative geniuses on Etsy, who are happy to do the stitching for you and sell you their wares. 

I sometimes wrap gifts in a holiday tea towel, or, if it’s food, in Bee’s Wrap (my friend Sarah makes her own). 

Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping using beautiful fabric. It’s a great way to use up old fabric from projects, or repurpose scarves. Or buy up fabric ends, which are typically much cheaper. 

Bluedot’s Marketplace editor, Elizabeth, is enchanted by Wrappily gift wrapping paper. Elizabeth, who confesses to bedazzling wrapped gifts in the past (you’re forgiven, Elizabeth! I pined for a Bedazzler to sparkle up my dull suburban youth) tells us that Wrappily repurposes old newspaper printers to manufacture cheerfully printed designs on 100% recycled newsprint. The wrapping paper can be reused, recycled once again, or composted. And Wrappily offers compostable, biodegradable ribbons and bows.

To wrap up, Evelyn, creating beautifully wrapped gifts is limited only by your imagination. They remain a reality even with an eco sensibility. What’s within that wrapping is, of course, at least as important so be sure to choose gifts with care. 

Got a question for Dot? Let her know here:

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