The Positive Impact of 5-R’s for Wrapping Paper

By: Michelle Lenis Liberto


The holidays present many opportunities to practice the 5-R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Repair, Reuse, and Recycle. Be sure to wrap your gifts in planet-friendly ways this holiday season by practicing the 5-R’s for wrapping!

The Positive Impact of 5-R’s for Wrapping Paper

About 2.3 million pounds of wrapping paper - half of all the gift wrap made in one year - is thrown into our landfills each year. Here are some ways you can help reduce these numbers this year for the holidays:

RECYCLE Wrapping Paper

As you celebrate the holidays, remember that wrapping paper is often just that: paper! Be sure any wrapping paper that is truly paper makes it to your recycling bin. Not sure if it’s recyclable? Keep reading!

REFUSE to Use Non-Recyclable Wrapping

Delve into the world of responsible wrapping by understanding the dos and don'ts of wrapping paper disposal. While some types of wrapping paper can be recycled, others may contain materials that are not environmentally friendly.

  • Opt for plain paper without metallic finishes, glitter, or excessive embellishments
  • Remove tape and bows before recycling, and reuse those bows

If you’re not sure whether or not your wrapping paper is recyclable, try the scrunch test:

  • Scrunch up a piece of wrapping paper. If it stays scrunched up, it’s likely safe to recycle. If the paper bounces right back to its original shape, it’s not safe to recycle. Now that you know the scrunch test, be sure to refuse to buy non-recyclable wrapping paper.

REUSE with Eco-Friendly Alternatives for Christmas Wrapping Paper:

This holiday season, embrace sustainable practices by opting for eco-friendly alternatives to traditional holiday wrapping paper. Consider repurposing materials like:

  • old maps
  • newspapers
  • brown paper bags

Or opt for reusable options that can be used year after year like:

  • fabric gift wrap
  • festive cloth bags

Not only does this reduce waste, but it also adds a charming, rustic touch to your presents. By making this small change, we contribute to a healthier planet and create a positive impact on the environment that keeps on giving.

REPAIR Old Wrapping Paper Into a New Life

Here’s where the R’s get a little fuzzy: call it repair, refurbish, reuse, or upcycle. Add a personal and sustainable flair to your gift-giving by upcycling old wrapping paper into something new and stunning. Get creative with crafting by repurposing last year's wrapping paper into:

  • handmade bows
  • ribbons
  • personalized gift tags

This not only breathes new life into materials that might have been discarded but also adds a unique and sentimental touch to your presents. It's a win-win for both your creativity and the environment.


Regardless of how you choose to wrap your holiday cheer, be sure to reduce the waste whenever you can. This might be by using just the right amount of paper, by presenting gifts in their original packaging which is often already festive, or by using any of the tips above. This holiday season, brighten your homes with the warmth of the holidays and brighten the planet for future generations by embracing sustainable habits! Refuse, Reduce, Repair, Reuse, and Recycle your holiday wrappings!

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