It’s easy to get wrapped up (sorry) in all the glitz and glitter at this time of year, but before you dash out for several rolls of sparkle-covered wrapping paper, here’s something to think about. It’s estimated that every Christmas in the UK, we use – and throw away – enough wrapping paper to circle the entire globe nine times. That is a lot of waste, and awful news for the environment.
You might be thinking, ‘but isn’t paper recyclable’? Most of it actually isn’t – glitter, synthetic inks and plastic coating can mean gift wrap ends up in landfill instead. Where’s the festive cheer in that? (Tip: you can check whether paper is plastic coated or not by scrunching it. If it stays scrunched, it’s probably fine to recycle, but if it pops back – boo, it’s covered in plastic.)
But there are plenty of ways to make presents look pretty and cut down on waste. Eco blogger and zero waste expert, Kate Arnell, says now is the time to switch up your wrapping. She says: “There are lots of different alternatives when it comes to wrapping a gift, so it’s about finding a wrapping style that works for you.
“Try and think about it in advance and save little things throughout the year – scraps of paper, things that come with deliveries – that can be reused.” Read on for your guide to eco-friendly Christmas gift wrapping…
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You know what other type of paper is headed straight for the bin? Newspaper. Give it a second lease of life by wrapping up all your thoughtfully-chosen presents. Some simple string tied in a bow or a sprig of holly will add to the old-world look. Although Kate has a word of warning: “Newspaper is a good alternative wrapping option – just don’t do what my mum did. She didn’t read the headline before handing over my present and it read: ‘I would rather get £250 than spend Christmas with my family.’ Her face just dropped! I like to bring that up every Christmas…”
Fabric (yes, really)
You might not associate fabric with gift wrapping, but it’s a genius – and cheap – way of using scrap material, and looks amazing under the tree (the more colours the better). Kate says: “HappyWrap has a gorgeous Scandi-style reindeer design that I love. I usually give it to a family member and then take it back, but it’s up for debate whether you should expect it back – it’s a whole new gifting etiquette!”
You know all those paper bags strewn around after your Christmas shopping spree? Take off the handles, undo the seams and hey presto, you’ve got brightly coloured wrap for free. The same goes for other packaging, too. Kate says: “Decorate boxes and reuse them each year, it’s a cute idea and a nice way to get creative.” Glass Kilner jars also make great gifts – fill one with homemade treats, add a (recycled) bow and graciously accept your new Queen of Christmas status.
Once you look beyond the plastic-coated rolls in your local supermarket, there’s a huge selection of recycled papers (think of it as preloved) that you in turn can reuse or recycle too. We love
Turquoise and Purple Fairtrade Handmade Wrap by Sourced by Oxfam – as well as looking great, it’s also Fair Trade and handmade in Nepal by women at risk of trafficking.
Kate says: “It’s not just the paper that’s wasteful. Instead of plastic sticky tape, use twine or paper tape, which can be recycled. Etsy is a great place to find sustainable alternatives, and craft shops have some really nice options now too – just watch out for the metallic designs as they aren’t recyclable.”
Need more inspo? We’ve rounded up our favourite eco-friendly wrapping buys below…