Having put hours of effort into your eco-friendly gift giving, you might now have some presents to wrap. You’ve probably heard that glittery or shiny wrapping paper can’t be recycled and therefore ends up in landfill. In fact, a staggering 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away every Christmas, along with 1 billion cards! In part 5 of my Christmas prep guide, I’m looking into alternatives to traditional wrapping paper.
- Brown paper is recyclable and also compostable if shredded. It can be accessorised with ribbons, homemade tags, sprigs of holly or Christmas decorations. One year, we used paint and Christmassy cookie cutters to decorate a roll of brown paper.
- Furoshiki fabric wrap looks really pretty. Knowing how much impact the textile industry has on the environment, I try not to buy new textiles if I can help it. Charity shops often have bargain bins or baskets full of scarves that are £1 each. I rummage through these for colourful or interesting scarves to use as furoshiki. There are loads of tutorials on how to use furoshiki wrap here.
- Newspaper, magazines and comics can all make good wrapping paper and it’s a great way to reuse them.
- Sheet music can be picked up cheaply in second hand shops and looks really stylish when used as wrapping paper. I don’t like to cut the sheets or stick any sellotape on them, preferring to keep them intact so that there’s a possibility a music lover could still use them. I tend to wrap it round the present and secure with a wide ribbon that will hold in the ends.
- Maps. These also look lovely used as wrapping paper and I also love this blog post from Pillar Box Blue that repurposes them into rosettes.
- Reusing gift bags from previous Christmases is a great way to cut down on giftwrap waste. We often don’t wrap the presents inside and just disguise the contents with some tissue paper scrunched up and put in the top of the bag.
- Bottles are awkward to wrap, so I don’t bother! I either reuse a bottle bag that has been given to us or I tie a big ribbon round the neck of the bottle.
- If you’re gifting home-baking this year, why not try reusing glass jars as a container? You can tie a pretty ribbon or some raffia round the top. You could also search charity shops for vintage kitchen tins to put your foodie gifts in. Simply line with baking paper if you’re worried about hygiene.
- The scrunch test. If, like us, you have small children who would smell a rat if Father Christmas’s presents were wrapped furoshiki style, you might find that cheaper wrapping paper is actually more likely to be recyclable. Glittery or shiny paper can’t be recycled, so we usually buy a roll of cheap paper for the children’s presents from Santa. If you scrunch it and it stays scrunched up, you can recycle it. Obviously, you can’t test the paper in the shop, but you can make an educated guess. We also save a lot of our used, torn wrapping paper to reuse as packaging material for eBay parcels.
Whilst it’s great to reduce the impact of giftwrap at the giving end of the chain, what about the receiving end of the chain? You need to make sure that the recipient of your gift isn’t going to simply chuck your furoshiki wrap, glass jars or vintage tins in their general waste bin. One Christmas I added a small note to the back of the gift tag saying ‘Please reuse, recycle or return this giftwrap. Thank you. xx’
The recipient might also dictate what giftwrap you choose. If you’re going to be giving the gift in person and you know you’ll see them open it, you can choose as option like furoshiki, where you’ll be able to gauge if they want to keep the scarf or whether you can offer to take it back with you for reuse. If you’re posting presents or you aren’t sure if the recipient will ‘get’ your low impact giftwrap, you could use brown paper. Then if it does end up in the general waste, hopefully it will break down faster than other wrapping paper. If you know that your recipient has a compost bin, you could choose to wrap in newspaper, tie with jute twine and decorate with holly sprigs or dried oranges. Then you can add a note to your gift tag that all the wrapping can be disposed of in their compost bin.
Well, that’s it for my Christmas prep guide. I hope it’s come in useful. Let me know your favourite gift wrap ideas in the comments below. And have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!