Most of us like to give presents to our loved ones and part of the excitement on Christmas morning – especially for children – is unwrapping gifts from under the tree. But do we consider the environment when using wrapping paper? According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the amount of wrapping paper used and thrown away each year would stretch to the moon – this equates to around 8,000 tonnes and 50,000 trees (source).
It is essential to recycle used wrapping paper, but as published in our Christmas card article, shiny wrapping paper or paper with glitter cannot be recycled. Furthermore, glitter can contaminate otherwise recyclable paper and card, meaning it could all end up in landfill or being burned.
So what can we do?
- Try to resist cheap rolls of paper sold in supermarkets and in high street shops, especially if they are shiny or glittery.
- Look out for recycled wrapping paper, if it isn’t too expensive.
- Rolls of recycled brown paper are more affordable. You could get crafty and make a potato stamp to decorate it, or you could use natural decorations such as small pine cones, cinnamon sticks, holly leaves, dried orange slices, fabric ribbons or wooden embellishments.
- Try wrapping with other types of paper for an alternative look – you could re-use tissue paper, newspaper, pages from magazines, old maps or sheet music.
- Although small pieces of sellotape can be removed or sieved out during the recycling process, you could try tying your presents with raffia which is biodegradable and from a renewable source.
- Purpose-made fabric wrapping or fabric gift bags are a good option. Although they might be expensive to buy, you can ask your family and friends to return them to you so you can re-use them each year. Alternatively, you could use scraps of material or pretty tea towels and tie with raffia.
- Foil is another option as it is recyclable and can be re-used after Christmas.
- Gift baskets are not only eco-friendly, they are also a great way to present someone with a gift.
Eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas
After Christmas, recycle or re-use but don’t throw paper away!
As with Christmas cards in our previous article, wrapping paper without glitter or shiny bits can be recycled locally if large pieces of sellotape are removed. You could introduce a mini recycling scheme at your workplace to encourage colleagues to recycle as well.
Use offcuts of paper to make gift tags, decorations or to stick on handmade cards for next year.
With a little effort, we can all take steps to help reduce Christmas waste.