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3 Creative Ways to Use Leftover Wrapping Paper

Article and audio introduction by Samantha Kennedy, Family and Consumer Sciences

Christmas morning can be a time of joy and excitement for many of us as we spend time with family and friends, exchange gifts, share a meal, watch Christmas movies, and maybe even sing a carol or two. However, it can also be a time of chaos as the floor disappears beneath an avalanche of wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows.

We Throw a Lot Away During the Holidays

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Americans throw away about a million more tons of garbage each week than other weeks of the year, much of which is wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags, ribbon, Christmas cards, and other gift packaging.

According to Stanford University, if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.

woman wrapping a gift

Help cut down on waste this Christmas by repurposing leftover wrapping paper in new and creative ways. (Photo source: UF/IFAS File Photo)

Reduce Waste, Try These Ideas!

Looking for ways to reduce waste during the holidays? Buy gifts that do not require wrapping, such as concert tickets, electronic gift cards, or streaming music or movie subscriptions. Offer time or services as a gift instead of something that comes in a box.

For those gifts that just absolutely need to be wrapped, however, here are three creative ways to repurpose used wrapping paper so it does not end up in the landfill.

Book covers. When I was in school, I always enjoyed covering my textbooks with brown paper grocery bags and decorating them myself. The same concept can be achieved with wrapping paper. Simply reuse larger pieces of used wrapping paper to make book covers. Or piece smaller scraps together to create an even more colorful design.

Shelf and drawer liners. Turn plain drawers and shelves into something more fun by lining them with used wrapping paper. Simply fit the pieces of leftover wrapping paper to the bottom of the drawer or the back of the shelf, trim, and stick to the surface with a non-permanent adhesive to create an effect that is both practical and visually interesting.

Wall art. Looking for a festive way to spruce up a room? Cut leftover wrapping paper to fit empty frames and hand or display these simple pieces of art to add a bit of flair to any space. Use different shapes, sizes, and colors of frames for a funky, festive look.

If these three suggestions do not work, then at the very least, use that leftover wrapping paper to cushion fragile ornaments during storage or as filler for parcels sent to others throughout the year. By finding at least one more use for leftover wrapping paper, we can cut down on the extra 25 million tons of trash being sent to our landfills every year.

For more information, please call Samantha Kennedy, Family and Consumer Sciences agent, at 850.926.3931.

Additional Resources

Reducing Waste: What You Can Do (EPA)
Wrapping Gifts the Recycled Way (Penn State University)

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