Sustainability during the Holidays

Sustainability during the Holidays

Wrapping Paper

12/12/2023 | Angela Whitlock, CSRA

With the holidays drawing closer, it is that time of year where everyone begins to purchase and wrap presents to put under the tree.

As part of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, part of the Museum’s mission involves preservation. In lieu of this, let’s talk about holiday wrapping paper.


Did you know that around FIVE MILLION TONS of holiday wrapping paper is thrown away every single year? That equals to around 227,000 miles, or a similar distance from the Earth to the moon!

Did you also know that most holiday wrapping paper is NOT recyclable? This is because the majority of it contains a plastic coating material, as well as glitter and metallic designs, and it points to why so much of it is thrown out each year.


So, what can we do about it? Well, there are so many alternative options to what our standard is nowadays. Here are some ideas below:

-Buy sustainable wrapping paper. This may be difficult to find in stores, but with the power of the Internet, it should be easy.

-Use all-paper gift bags.

-Save the wrapping paper from the presents that were given to you by opening them along the tape so that you can reuse them to wrap others gifts in the future. You will still be using non-recyclable wrapping paper, but it will reduce the amount thrown away if it is something that can be reused. Note: you can also use the wrapping paper for crafts, such as making your own holiday cards, or for making a scrapbook.

-Don’t wrap your presents. Make a present hunting game for the kids instead and hide them around the house, much like an Easter egg hunt but with clues.


And, our favorite…

-Use wrapping paper alternatives: old newspapers, magazines, or a paper bag.

With a few steps, you can turn a paper bag into a sheet for wrapping presents. All you will need are some scissors, tape, and a bag. You can also decorate the bags and make a fun family activity out of it! Please make sure to not decorate with items that contain glitter and any plastic material, as these are not recyclable.

First, you will want to cut the bag along the side seams. You can either create one sheet or two separate sheets by doing this, depending on the size of your present. Then, open the bottom flaps, resembling an envelope, as carefully as possible.

Lay the sheet of paper out and determine the size you need for your present. We ended up having to tape the two white sheets together that we created to make one large sheet, and then we cut down things to size.

If you want to decorate your paper with a pattern, this is the best time to do it.

Next, wrap the present with the paper like you would a normal present.

Decorating your bag after the present is wrapped would result in being able to see where the design lays, but it may be more cumbersome to do.

We chose to decorate after wrapping these boxes, using markers and stamps.


…and there you have it! An easy, affordable, and sustainable way to exchange gifts this holiday season!

Don’t forget to stop in to the Museum Store for all of your holiday gift items, and make sure to save our paper bags for your wrapping projects.