2013 IEEE. The use of the natural materials instead of conventional materials as electromagnetic absorbers promotes environmental sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and ease of accessibility. Furthermore, these materials may also be designed as absorbers and as reinforcements in building materials in a lightweight form. The absorbing ability of composite materials can be customized based on the chosen fillers. Specifically, magnetic and dielectric fillers can be incorporated to improve the absorption of a composite material compared to traditional materials. This work aims to review recent developments of electromagnetic absorbers enabled by nanocomposites, metamaterial and metasurface-based, as well as green composite alternatives. First, the background concepts of electromagnetic wave absorption and reflection will be presented, followed by the assessment techniques in determining electromagnetic properties of absorbing materials. Next, the state-of-the-art absorbers utilizing different materials will be presented and their performances are compared. This review concludes with a special focus on the future perspective of the potential of metamaterial based nanocellulose composites as ultrathin and broadband electromagnetic absorbers.