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Published Dec. 14, 2021

It’s no secret that the holiday season, with all its shipping and packaging, can be a time of particularly egregious waste. Festive wrapping paper is no exception. Although the most sustainable option is to ditch the-printed paper altogether, there are some recyclable alternatives that can cut down how much glittery paper inevitably ends up in the garbage bin. 

How we selected the best recyclable wrapping paper

While you might be quick to crumple and toss any and all holiday wrapper paper into the recycling bin, only a very few select types are actually recyclable. Any paper with a shiny coating, glittery dust, or those alluring foil details can’t be recycled, which means they will ultimately end up in a landfill. Instead, opt for non-coated options or reusable supplies that will endure multiple holiday seasons. Before buying, be sure to check your local recycling regulations to ensure that your selection won’t be just another pile of Santa-printed trash. 

What to consider when shopping for recyclable wrapping paper

Materials: While recyclable holiday paper might not end up in a landfill, you should also consider its origins before you make your pick. Some options are made of recycled paper, meaning that they are also more sustainable on the production side, while others are made of eco-friendly materials like honeycomb, which can also biodegrade naturally.  

Packaging: It should come as no surprise that the shipping materials your wrapping paper come in can also contribute to landfill waste, which is why a few of these picks come in biodegradable or recyclable packaging. If you’re going for the most sustainable option, keep an eye out for products that aren’t wrapped in single-use plastic. 

Durability: Reusing materials is undeniably the best way to reduce your holiday waste. Consider the durability of your wrapping supplies—as cloth options or denser paper can likely be repurposed or save for next Christmas (and, ideally, for many years to come). 

Recyclable wrapping paper: Reviews & Recommendations

Best compostable option: Newspaper Gift Wrap – Eco-Friendly

This party-themed holiday recyclable wrapping paper is one of the most eco-friendly wrapping paper picks of the bunch. It offers natural soy-based inks and biodegradable corn-based packaging rather than the traditional plastic wrap. With two patterns to choose from on high-quality newsprint press, this option offers versatility while reducing waste. Not only is this paper recyclable, but it also can be composted.

Best multiuse: Eco Kraft Wrapping Paper Roll

This 100-foot roll of paper is made of both recyclable and biodegradable materials, so you can reuse or recycle it after the holiday season. And while classic gift wrapping paper easily shreds or rips, this durable kraft paper can endure more wear. The classic brown uncoated look creates a traditional aesthetic underneath any tree and can be used for more than just presents once the holidays are over.  Whether you use it as a canvas for art, kids’ projects, or a no-frills table covering, this classic style of wrapping paper doesn’t need to go to waste.

Best for reuse: Wrapeez Christmas Gift Wrap

One of the best ways to reduce your waste is to opt for reusable options that last longer than a singular holiday season. And if you’re tired of forming the perfect creases and corners while wrapping gifts, a reusable fabric stretch bag might be the perfect solution to both problems. This set of holiday-themed fabric wraps can stretch around a variety of shapes and sizes, so you’re not limited to the exact dimensions of the bag. This wrapping also means you can ditch the plastic tape and save time in prepping your presents before they’re under the tree.

Best for easy wrapping: Hallmark Kraft Christmas Wrapping Paper

This Hallmark pack of four holiday patterns creates a grand total of 88 square feet of wrapping power, with adorable designs including penguins in stocking caps, Santa-making snow angels, snowmen, and a colorful polka dot print. The predetermined cut lines on the reserve side of each paper make gift-wrapping a breeze, so you can skip the wonky lines and messy tape job.

Best patterns on recyclable paper: The Doodle Factory Christmas Gift Wrapping Paper

When it comes time to wrap gifts and you’re tired of reaching for the same patterned paper, opt for this variety pack of 10 unique Christmas-themed designs. From a playful pink option to a minimalistic black-and-white print, there’s enough variety to suit any home and any tree. The 100-percent recyclable wrapping paper is also an eco-friendly pick—and is even packaged in a biodegradable compostable plastic substitute.

Best biodegradable paper: Honeycomb Cushioning Packing Paper

Whether you’re wrapping gifts to place under the Christmas tree or sending a loved one a present from several states away, a lightly cushioned packaging paper can protect valuables from bumps, scratches, and damage. This honeycomb wrapping paper cuts out the need for unsustainable plastic and is approved for curbside recycling programs. The interlocking honeycomb cells make the wrap ultra-durable, so you don’t need to worry about tears in your paper.

Best reusable gift bags: Amosfun Christmas Drawstring Gift Bags

Skip the yearly trip to the store to purchase holiday gift bags. These drawstring fabric bags will withstand many Christmases to come. With a variety of sizes including 10 small gift bags,10 large, five medium, and five extra-large, you can save time on the tedious process of wrapping and opt for this simple solution instead. When they’re not filled with gifts, you can also use these drawstring bags to store seasonal decor.

Best recyclable paper for value: Rancco Christmas Wrapping Paper Set

With 10 holiday patterns including elk, Santa Claus, snowflakes, and trees, this set of wrapping papers will equip you with all you need to power through the Christmas season. And if you find yourself running out of materials like tape, gift labels, or double-sided tape mid-wrap, this kit has all the materials in one convenient package. The kraft paper is also durable so you can avoid pesky tears and has dotted guides for crisp lines and cutting.

Best ribbon: Colors of Christmas Natural Cotton Curling Ribbon Bundle

When you want to add flourish to your gifts without resorting to plastic ribbon or bows, opt for this holiday set from Wrappily. The ribbon comes in five different colors and patterns and is made with only water-based dyes, soy-based inks, and cotton yarn. And with 50 yards of thread in total, this pack can last you for holidays to come (especially if you reuse the ribbon). 

FAQs

Q: What wrapping paper is recyclable?

A majority of wrapping papers are made with non-paper additions—like metal, glitter, plastic, foil, and lamination—which makes them incompatible with the paper recycling process. If you want to recycle your wrapping paper, look for regular sheets that have none of these elements—plain, non-glossy papers are your best bet—and check the product description along with your local recycling regulations to be sure your post-holiday cleanup won’t contaminate the recycling bin. 

Q: Is brown paper better than wrapping paper?

Yes—it is less likely to contain non-paper additives, plus it can be used year-round for a variety of purposes other than wrapping presents. Not to mention that it looks especially chic under the tree and can be easily decorated with markers or a pen for a personal flair. 

Q: Is wrapping paper bad for the environment?

Wrapping paper not only creates waste but also uses one of the most essential natural resources we have: trees. Your best option is to cut out this holiday paper altogether, but if you’re unwilling to do so just yet, be sure to at least choose a paper that can be recycled into other paper products like coffee cups, paper towels, or egg cartons. 

A final word on the best recyclable wrapping paper 

You can still enjoy holiday traditions, like unwrapping a present, while doing your part to reduce unnecessary waste. Whether you’re switching to biodegradable honeycomb packaging to ship gifts cross-country, or reusable cloth bags to disguise the next present, these eco-conscious wrapping options can make your holiday a bit more sustainable. 

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