Photo: Gift wrapping the green way

Wrapping gifts in a fabric is a festive sustainable alternative to wrapping paper.

The presents have been opened. The kids are playing happily. And you start stuffing all that wrapping into a recycling bag. Which is better than a garbage bag, but you know you could do even better.

Just look at those lovely kids — taking the extra step is the greatest gift you can give them!

Fabric wrap
Wrapping gifts with festive fabrics is my favorite sustainable option! Keep it simple by purchasing beautifully made bags and accessories from artisan retailers or get crafty and make your own.

Folding fabric as gift wrap is also simple and the end results can be spectacular. Whether you're giving wine, flowers, a box or some irregular shaped delight, you'll appreciate the step-by-step folding tutorials at

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Get creative
Who says that gifts need to wrapped in wrapping? A boxed item can be wrapped in a scarf. Wine likes tea towels. And socks stuffed into a paper towel roller make for a fun surprise.

Maybe the kids in your house would enjoy making their own wrapping? Large bolts of cloth can be decorated with fabric paint and reused year after year. Gifts in cardboard boxes are already wrapped — just unleash this kids' creativity directly on the box!

100% post-consumer wrapping paper
If you are going to wrap a gift in paper, look for wrap that is printed on 100% recycled paper, with a high post-consumer percentage. Paper should be processed chlorine-free and printed with vegetable-based ink.

Bows, buttons and other accessories
It's not just the paper that causes problems! Those bows and ribbons are a mysterious assortment of plastic, making them difficult to recycle at the end of their life. It also takes a lot of resources to produce and ship them. Obviously, reuse the ones you have on hand! But once they've been used up, replace them with fabric ribbon and buttons. Or take your inspiration from nature and decorate with felt, pinecones, pressed flowers and other bits or beauty located in your backyard.

It can be fun to make your own gift tags and decorations, but if crafty isn't your thing, turn to etsy or your local holiday market. There are lots of artisans who'll appreciate your green holiday buying power.

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