Rethinking gift wrap in a world of recycling

As unease about waste grows, consumers and companies try to make gift wrap more sustainable

Growing unease about waste has some Americans rethinking wrapping paper.

Gift wrap is still a huge business. U.S. sales of wrapping paper climbed 4 percent to $8.14 billion last year, according to a recent report by Sundale Research. But sales of reusable gift bags rose faster, the company said. Sundale said it’s also closely watching green trends — like furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping with fabric — because they could impact gift wrap sales in the coming years.

Marie Wood, a student at Northern Arizona University, started wrapping Christmas gifts in brown paper grocery bags a few years ago when she saw the bags piling up at home.

“It wasn’t consciously around environmentalism, but a good way to use these bags that aren’t going to get used otherwise,” she said.

Now that her parents carry reusable bags to the grocery, the pile is getting smaller. Wood says she might switch to fabric wrapping that she can reuse each year.

“I want to change the disposable nature of my wrapping,” she said.

Some consumers are ditching wrapping altogether. In a survey released last month, half of U.S. respondents said they will give holiday gifts without wrapping this year to avoid using paper, according to Accenture, a consulting firm. Nearly two-thirds said they would happily receive gifts without wrapping.

Gift wrap companies are taking notice. IG Design Group, a United Kingdom-based maker of stationery and wrapping paper, said earlier this year that it removed glitter from its paper because it’s not recyclable.

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