Pretty Smart: Great Green Gift & Product Packaging


Some people say it’s what’s inside that counts, but the truth is, packaging plays a big role not only in the presentation of a product but in the earth-friendliness of its life cycle. And considering all the plastic that temporarily protects a product and then gets pitched into landfills, we need all the eco-innovation we can get. These 14 sustainable gift wrap ideas & product packages make bulky, wasteful wrappings a thing of the past, choosing reclaimed, recyclable and natural materials for beautiful and efficient results.

360 Paper Bottle


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60 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day in the United States alone, and it’s not just the waste that’s a problem – plastic is made from petroleum. So what can we do about it? One possible solution is the 360 paper bottle concept, made of fully recyclable food-safe paper. It even has a paper lid!

DIY Gift Wrap by Grey Likes Weddings


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If you tend to think of DIY gift wrap made of recycled materials as a little too rustic for your tastes, check out these gorgeous examples of creative reuse. Summer Watkins of Grey Likes Weddings created the decorative accents on these gifts using reclaimed items like vintage brooches, thrift store sweaters, book pages, fabric scraps and natural greenery.

Billerud Fiberform Biodegradable Packaging


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From Swedish packaging designer Billerud comes ‘Fiberform’, biodegradable and recyclable packaging that takes plastic out of the equation for all manner of products from food to cosmetics. This paper-based packaging can be embossed or printed and fits securely around package contents to protect it.

Molded Paperboard for Newton Running Shoes


(image via: sustainable is good)

Simple, green and cost-effective, this molded paperboard box made for Newton Running Shoes eliminates the need for tissue paper padding by creating a tight custom fit around the shoes. You won’t even find disposable packing materials inside the shoes – instead, they include a pair of socks and a reusable bag!

Universal Cardboard Packaging by Patrick Sung


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Don’t you hate it when you order a small item that comes in a ridiculously oversized cardboard box? Patrick Sung’s Universal Packaging System (UPACKS) could make that problem a thing of the past. This innovative packaging concept not only bends around objects of virtually any shape for packaging that’s easy to customize, it’s strong and durable, too. One drawback, however, is a lack of stackability, which might require further thinking outside the box (literally).

DIY: CD Spindle for Bagel Transport


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Need to keep a bagel sandwich protected while on the go? One genius Flickr user named piwonka came up with this novel idea using a reclaimed CD spindle. If only this would catch on at the neighborhood deli.

Banana Leaves as Natural Packaging


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Naturally durable and water-resistant, banana leaves could serve as an eco-friendly packaging option for all kinds of applications. In a series called Packaging the Future, Inhabitat outlines the many virtues of banana leaf packaging, especially for food. These tough leaves can even be folded into cute little bowls.

MoMA TerraSkin Treeless Paper Packaging


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Made of 80 percent calcium carbonate mineral powder and 20 percent resin, TerraSkin is tree-free and requires 50 percent less energy to create than regular fiber-based paper. It’s got a bright white color without bleaching, is naturally tear-resistant and repels water, requiring less ink when printing. The Museum of Modern Art began using TerraSkin for its gift boxing and packaging needs in 2006.

EcoTubes Recycled Paper Lip Balm


(image via: phoenix botanicals etsy)

Want plastic-free lip balm that still provides tube-like ease of application? Etsy seller Phoenix Botanicals offers a trio of organic herbal lip balms in biodegradable recycled paper containers that contain 20% more product than plastic tubes with no waste.

Mushroom Packaging


(images via: inhabitat)

Renewable, natural and fire-resistant, packaging made from mushrooms can biodegrade even without oxygen and requires little energy to produce. Created by Ecovative Design, ‘Mycobond’ requires just one eighth the energy and one tenth the carbon dioxide of traditional foam packing material and could eventually make its way into our homes cradling electronics, furniture, décor and countless other items. Because mushrooms can grow practically anywhere, this packaging could be produced locally, saving even more energy.

Yves Behar Box/Bag for Puma


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San Francisco designer Yves Behar of Fuseproject created this cool box/bag combo for footwear brand Puma. Called Clever Little Bag, the packaging consists of a flat-pack cardboard tray that fits inside a reusable recycled heat-woven case with a handle. This design uses 65% less cardboard  than the standard shoe box and requires no laminated printing, no tissue paper and no plastic carrying bag. Clever indeed.

Japanese Furoshiki Reusable Gift Cloth


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Why use disposable gift wrap at all when you could simply wrap the gift in a beautiful reusable organic cotton cloth? It’s easy to cut wrapping cloth out of any fabric you have on hand, or you could go with an elegant pre-made option like this organic cotton version by Chewing the Cud, inspired by the traditional Japanese Furoshiki cloth and printed with soy inks.

Recycled Paper Envelope from Book Pages


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A beautiful, one-of-a-kind shipping or gift envelope is as simple as sewing some book pages together. You could also use brown paper bags, as in this tutorial by Natural Kids.

Biodegradable Packaging for McDonald’s


(image via: inhabitat)

McDonalds will likely never truly earn the right to call itself ‘green’, but it would earn a lot of cred if it picked up this concept for biodegradable packaging by University of the Arts grad student Andrew Millar. The bags are made of naturally grease-resistant grass fiber and fold out into compartmentalized trays for tidy, low-waste meals on the go.