Sustainable Gift Wrapping Ideas
Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year, for both children and adults alike. From decorating the tree with the family, to pulling crackers around the dinner table and handing over a special gift to that certain someone. But unfortunately our festivities aren’t quite so wonderful for the environment. Did you know that Christmas festivities increase global waste by up to 30% each year? With over 100 million rubbish bags filled with Christmas waste ending up in landfill.
So what can we do to reduce our impact on the environment this Christmas?
One good place to start is with gift wrap. Recent studies have found that 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away each year in the UK alone and that 50,000 trees are cut down for this purpose.
So what are the best sustainable gift wrap alternatives?
Here we share some of our best tips, tricks and ideas for cutting down on waste this Christmas when wrapping up your gifts. From quick and easy swaps to recyclable paper, to lesser known hacks to reduce waste whilst still impressing your friends and family!
The humble cardboard box
Repurposing cardboard, whether it be an old shoe box, a leftover box from a recent purchase or even an old cardboard poster tube, can be a fantastic way to cut back on waste at Christmas! They can be used for a variety of gifts and decorated to suit each individual recipients’ taste. If you’re a lover of arts and crafts, grab some paints and glitter and get stuck in! Or if you’re not the most artistic of people, you can even buy eco-friendly stickers in a variety of festive prints. Simply tie a bow around your box using a piece of coloured string, finish it off with a sticker and you’re done! An elegant, sustainably wrapped gift you can feel good about.
Have you heard of the Japanese art of Furoshiki? If not, you’re in for a treat! This beautiful traditional method of gift wrapping involves encasing your gift in a square piece of cloth or material instead of using wrapping paper. Fabrics such as silk, nylon, cotton, canvas and raylon can be used and there are a wide variety of methods for wrapping and tying the fabric, resulting in an impressive, professional finish. This option is excellent for reducing waste, as the fabrics can be reused time and time again!
Biodegradable wrapping paper
This is one of the easiest quick swaps for reducing plastic waste at Christmas time. Simply swap any glittery or shiny wrapping paper out for kraft paper or any recyclable gift wrap! More and more retailers are starting to sell recyclable Christmas wrapping paper, so just have a good look on the shelf before reaching straight for a pretty, yet no-so-eco-friendly paper. These types of wrapping often get you the most compliments too, as timeless, elegant classics. In the wise words of Julie Andrews… ‘brown paper packaging tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things!’
Reusable wicker baskets and hampers
Wicker baskets and hampers always give the wow factor at Christmas time, no matter what’s inside them! Whether it’s a selection of your recipients’ favourite foods, drinks or even miniature plants, popping them into a hamper with some wood wool or straw is guaranteed to make it look like you’ve made a real effort! What’s more, these hampers can be used time and time again, from storing picnics, to displaying firewood and of course - other gifts!
Reusing old gift bags
Whilst we’re on the topic of reusing, another fantastic sustainable gift wrapping idea is to reuse an old gift bag! Anytime you receive a present in a gift bag, pop it away to reuse for the next gift you give. You might have noticed that many gift bags, such as this recyclable bag from Tesco, feature multiple tags.This enables you to reuse them for other recipients in the future - even if the tag has already been written! Simply tear off and recycle the old tag and use another! Some charities are also running sustainability schemes to help with conservation efforts during the Christmas period. The RSPB for instance, stocks a variety of gift wrapping paper and gift bags made from 100% recycled materials, and 90% of all net profits from these products go to conservation efforts, public education and advocacy!
Recycled paper tape
UK households go through over 6 million rolls of plastic tape each December - that’s more than enough to reach the moon and come all the way back! But in reality, instead of going on a trip to the moon, all of this plastic ends up in landfill, polluting the environment and causing damage to our planet. Paper tape on the other hand is a much more eco-friendly alternative. At present, recycling plant machinery isn’t great at identifying paper tape, however, the more consumers buy and use paper tape instead of plastic tape, the more incentivised waste companies will be to develop machines that can do this.
Looking for a unique, shabby chic look for your gifts this Christmas? Why not repurpose your old newspapers! Not only is this quirky but it also saves money as there’s no need to buy wrapping paper. What’s more, newspaper is 100% recyclable, making it a far more environmentally friendly option. Simply wrap it up and tie a bow around with hessian or string, and there you have it!
Not only does hessian make a fantastic addition to wrapped gifts in the form of bows or decorations, but sacks made from this versatile fabric make beautifully timeless bags to hold your recipients' gifts. This traditional style fabric dates back to India in the early 19th century where it was used to make rugs and carpets. Since then its uses have broadened even further, thanks to its durable and lightweight properties. Hessian is made from natural fibres found in the skin of the jute plant, making it an excellent sustainable option! If they’re good enough for Santa, why not give them a go!
Food scraps… yes really!
Well, maybe not scraps per say - but using things we have an abundance of at Christmas time that often end up going to waste is a great idea when it comes to sustainable wrapping! Dried orange slices or cinnamon sticks can be tied onto gifts and gift bags with string, and make a beautifully unique change from the usual bows and ribbons!
Something from the garden
You don’t always have to look far and wide to get your hands on sustainable gift wrap alternatives. In fact, sometimes there may be opportunities right on your doorstep… Well, near your doorstep! A sprig of rosemary or lavender can be a stunning addition to your gift wrap, making your gifts stand out from all of the rest! This also gives your gift a gorgeous natural scent for your recipient to enjoy when they open it!
We hope these sustainable gift wrap ideas, tips and tricks have inspired you to make more eco-friendly choices when gifting this Christmas! For more sustainability content, statistics, gift ideas and all things plants, check out our blog here!