Are Gift Bags Recyclable? Tips to Make Gift Bags 100% Recyclable

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Gift-giving is a huge deal for a lot of people. Whether it’s for personal or professional reasons, we all give gifts to celebrate occasions or show appreciation and care for someone.

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Last Updated on August 30, 2023 by Packoi Team

With the Holiday season happening in a few months, people are starting to think about gifts to give. There are also many factors to consider when giving gifts, part of that is deciding what gift wrapping paper to use or gift bags to buy.

But more than the wrapped gifts, you should also think about how you can approach the gift-giving season while staying sustainable.

In this article, you’ll learn how to be more eco-friendly while sharing gifts with the people that matter. You’ll also get a deeper insight into why a gift bag is better than giving wrapped gifts.

3 Gift Bag Materials That Can Be Recycled

The whole purpose of this article is to help you create recyclable gift bags. For some people, gift wrapping paper is the traditional way to give gifts. But if you look at it from an eco-conscious point of view, there’s a better option than wrapping paper. Even if it’s recycled gift wrap, you’re better off using gift bags.

But before finding out why it’s the better option, it’s essential to understand why it’s a sustainable option for you.

Gift bags become sustainable because of the materials that they use. You have 3 recyclable materials to choose from.

Paper Gift Bags

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When it comes to recyclable gift bags, most people think of paper bags. It’s a biodegradable and compostable material. But more importantly, paper comes from trees, which are a renewable resource. Using paper from cut trees won’t harm the environment as long as the old trees are cut down and replaced with new ones. You see, the new trees are the ones absorbing CO2, while the old ones release the ones they’ve absorbed over the years. That means cutting down the old trees is a must.

Now, using paper bags doesn’t necessarily mean it’s already sustainable. It’s crucial to ensure that you’re getting it from the right source. Otherwise, you might just be supporting the exploitation of forests. To be sure, get your paper bags from FSC-certified companies.

It’s not just the paper bags that you have to consider. Even the gift tag or tissue paper that you’ll add to the gift should be from the right source.

Plastic Gift Bags

This is a great bag because it’s durable and moisture-resistant. You might be surprised that plastic bags are included in this list. If you source the right material, even plastic can be a viable bag for gifts.

That means you have to buy biodegradable plastic gift bags. These are the ones made from plant-based materials and designed to have the same qualities as plastic. However, bio-based plastic is compostable instead of taking hundreds of years to decompose. It won’t take long for it to break down.

Of course, you still have to consider the recycling facilities that can process plastic. If the facilities near you can process them, check their guidelines. Some of them can only accept specific types of plastic for recycling.

Fabric Gift Bags

Fabric Gift Bags

Using fabric for your gift bag is best for reusability. Cloth is strong enough to withstand multiple uses – and you can wash it, too! Reusable cloth gift bags or totes can be made of old scarves, clothing, or even bedsheets.

If you have printed fabrics, that’s even better. You won’t have to add elements to wrapping gifts to make them look festive. The recipient will also appreciate using the bag for something else. They can recycle it for another gift, or they can use it to carry around their items.

6 Tips to Keep Your Gift Bags Recyclable

Now that you know the three best options for your gift bags, it’s time to make sure that they remain recyclable. Sometimes, the material may be recyclable, but once you add design elements, it compromises the recyclability of the material.

To protect your eco-friendly gift-giving efforts, avoid compromising the material that you’ve chosen and your gift wrap options. Here are six tips that’ll help keep your bags recyclable.

Opt for Biodegradable Materials

The three materials mentioned earlier in this article are the best options for your gift bags. But you have other alternatives to choose from. You just have to be patient in doing your research so you can find innovative ways to remain eco-friendly with your packaging options.

old gift wrap bag

You can use old gift wrap. Use recycled paper like magazines, newspapers, or old gift wrapping paper and fashion them into gift bags.

There are many designs to choose from online if you want to create your own bags.

Make It Reusable

Whatever material you choose for your gift bags, try to make them durable so they can be reused. This is the big difference between a gift bag and a gift wrap. Wrappers are usually thrown away after they’re used. After all, tearing off the wrapper is part of what makes receiving gifts fun.

But that’s also incredibly wasteful. So using a gift bag is the best option because it’s reusable. If you can ensure that it’s sturdy enough to be used multiple times, then it’ll make your gift all the more sustainable.

Avoid Non-Recyclable Elements

To make gift bags look more festive, we tend to add a lot of things to them. You have gift tags, tissue paper, ribbons, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as you choose eco-friendly add-ons to the bag. For instance, use paper-based gift tags. Or you can use ribbons made from cotton or jute. Avoid ribbons made of synthetic nylon or polyester; these can’t be recycled.

While you can remove these, it’ll be more prudent if you just stick to eco-friendly decorative elements to make your gift 100% sustainable.

reusable paper gift bags

Choose Eco-Friendly Ink and Lamination

It was mentioned earlier that it’s possible to compromise the recyclability of your gift bags. Even if you use plastic gift tags or metallic ribbons, they’ll be easier to remove to preserve the recyclability of your gift bags. But if you use petroleum-based ink or plastic film to laminate the bags, then it would be harder to remove. That would make the bags non-recyclable.

This is why it’s better to use eco-friendly alternatives. If you want to print on the bags, use soy-based inks or cellulose lamination. You can also opt for matte finishes or uncoated surfaces to make them more environmentally friendly.

Provide a Disposal Guide

Gift bags should also come with guidelines on how to properly dispose of them. Use the recycling symbol and print it somewhere in the bag. You can also add a QR code that leads to a page on your website. Use that space to give the recipient detailed instructions on how to put the gift bag in the recycling bin with the tissue paper, gift tags, and other elements that you added to it.

Educate Customers

Using the same QR code that was just mentioned, educate the recipient of the gift on how to practice sustainability. Apart from giving them instructions involving the recycling bin, educate them about what it means to be eco-friendly.

Give them tips that they can use to be more sustainable in their lives. Tell them about the effects of recycling and how a simple act can make a difference.

Reasons Why a Gift Bag Is Better than a Gift Wrap

Visual appeal is important in gift-giving. This is why some people are torn between wrapped gifts and gift bags. But if you consider a couple of factors, you’ll realize why a bag is better than using gift wrap.

According to the National Environmental Education Fund, we produce more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s—up to 1 million tons of extra trash. This includes wrapping paper. If you want to be sustainable with your gifts, it’s not enough to use eco-friendly gift-wrapping paper. It’s better to focus on reusability by using gift bags.

Apart from that, there are three reasons why you should opt for gift bags over wrapping paper.


When you use gift wrapping paper, it’ll take you a couple of minutes to wrap gifts. If you’re not good at it, the gift might even end up looking trashy.

gift bag with ribbon

If you use gift bags, you just have to put the present inside, close it, and then you’re done. Even if you add a ribbon, it’ll be quick to do so. This is very convenient if you have a lot of gifts to wrap during Christmas.


The traditional gift wrapping paper usually ends up in the trash after it’s removed from the present. This makes it a huge contributor to the tons of waste that keep multiplying every year. Even if you use reusable paper, there’s a high chance that the recipient won’t have the patience to unwrap the gift carefully so as not to tear the wrapping paper.

This is another reason why gift bags are better than gift wrap options. You can open a gift bag without tearing or destroying it. There’s a higher chance that it will be reused by the recipient.


Since gift bags can be reused, that makes them more practical than gift wrapping paper. It’s eco-friendly and cost-efficient, too. If you start receiving gifts in bags, you don’t have to buy wrapping paper. You can reuse the bags.

It won’t take a long time to wrap them as well. It’s a very practical way to give gifts to your loved ones – especially during the holiday season when you’ll have to give a lot of gifts.

Start Using Recyclable Gift Bags. Packoi Printing Has Different Options to Offer.

While it’s still okay to use gift wrapping paper now and then, it might be a better option to use a gift bag instead. Giving gifts should be a fun experience. Don’t stress yourself out with the time-consuming task of using wrapping paper. Just get a personalized bag that you can use for your presents.

If you need a great source of eco-friendly gift bags, Packoi Printing can help. We have a lot of options for you to choose from. Give us a call so we can talk about your ideas. We’ll send you a fair quote in no time.

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Hey there, I’m Shelly!

I really enjoy the packaging and printing industry because my work makes my clients’ products more beautiful and enjoyable. If you have any questions about packaging and printing, feel free to contact me!

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