Author Bio: Cheryl B. is a freelance writer and activist who loves finding simple ways her family in Michigan can be smart about their waste. She has also researched which car insurance companies are the most environmentally friendly.

Gift giving is big business in the U.S. and requires tons of paper gift wrap annually. According to, nearly 50 percent of the country's total paper consumption per year is wrapping paper. That amounts to approximately 42 million tons of waste paper trashed annually!

Not only is gift wrap typically a one use commodity, it is often non-recyclable due to dyes, lamination, and metallic or plastic additives. This adds up to rampant consumption of trees as well as considerable greenhouse gas emissions from the paper-making process.

In terms of personal consumption, disposable gift wrapping and gift bags are expensive. If all Americans adopted reusable gift bags for just a few of the gifts they give each year, this would translate into a significant savings in cost with a minimum of effort. (For ideas on what to fill your reusable gift wrap with, be sure to visit our eco gift center!)

Some of our favorite reusable gift wrap by Lilywrap! Check out our lovely, multicolored line of Lilywrap eco-friendly products.

The Anti-Waste Wrap Revolution

Fortunately for U.S. forests and budget-conscious consumers, enterprising environmentalists offer fabulous reusable options in gift bags that preserve the mystery of gift giving while saving on paper usage. Some of the advantages of multi-use gift bags include:

- Easy to use – just bag the gift and go!
- Durable fabric resists tearing and often cleans up easily
- Organically grown fabrics available
- Huge variety of sizes and colors
- Easy to store when not in use

With all of the designer options currently available in fabric gift sacks, spending a bit more for multiple usage wrap makes good sense. In fact, giving a gift in a designer fabric bag is like giving two gifts in one, because the recipient will save the wrap and play it forward.

Types of Reusable Gift Bags


L: Chewing the Cud organic cotton giftwrap and R: Bag-all cotton reusable gift bag

Reusable gift bags are often made from natural cotton fabric that is sewn into a pouch shape with a drawstring closure.  Those that have gusseted bottoms -- enlarged with seaming that forms a squared-off shape -- are designed to hold heavier or bulky objects. Some reusable fabric gift sacks are made from recycled fibers, and some incorporate fibers grown without chemicals for enhanced environmental sustainability.

With a bag to fit virtually any type of gift, wrapping it up in reusable materials is quick, environmentally savvy and simple. No need to track down the scissors or tape, because the bag is a self-contained package.

Variations on the Reusable Theme

Reusable gift bags come in designs ranging from solid colors to prints and work well in all sorts of gift-giving situations.
Some ideas for pairing a gift bag with a specific occasion include:

- Christmas gifts in festive red and green print bags with mini pine cone adornments
- Mother’s Day gifts wrapped in floral or pastel gift bags with pretty ribbon bows
- Anniversary gifts in silver or gold toned fabric gift bags with fresh rosebuds
- Children’s birthday gifts in cartoon print fabrics with matching miniature toys tied into the bows
- Wedding shower gifts in the wedding colors with silver bells
- Party favor bags with drawstrings for reuse as marble or treasure saver bags
- Easter gift bags in biblical or bunny prints with a keepsake cross tied on

Project Gift Bags

Reusable bags are great do it yourself projects for preschoolers through adults.
Younger children can work with felt fabric that requires no hemming but just simple side seams sewn by hand. Crafty adults can devise custom bags in sizes to fit specific gifts and occasions.

No matter the gift, making use of reusable gift bags makes good sense in terms of budget and responsible consumerism. Pretty fabric bags last through several gift exchanges looking fresh and enticing while saving paper and reducing waste. Having a supply of reusable bags on hand in a variety of sizes and styles makes gift giving easier and more fun than ever before.