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A guide to eco-friendly gift wrapping

December 20, 2020By Flora Beverley

Discover great & surprising ideas to gift wrap this Christmas.

The Christmas season is an exciting one, but it’s also one of excess and waste, especially when it comes to food and gifts. Much of this is sadly sent to landfill, releasing methane gas as it slowly decomposes, contributing to climate change. A lot of the wrapping paper we now use isn’t even recyclable, thanks to the pretty glitter, shiny texture or metallic detailing, and those that are recyclable often end up in landfill regardless. You can tell whether yours is by scrunching it up – if it springs back, it likely isn’t recyclable, probably due to a plastic coasting. If it stays firmly scrunched, it may be recyclable, but keep an eye out for glitter and metallic detailing, which clog up recycling plants, and thus aren’t able to be recycled

According to the waste-collection service Biffa, in the UK we produce around 30% more waste over the festive season. In 2016, Brits threw away 227,000 miles worth of wrapping paper, more than enough to stretch to the moon! And when it comes to Christmas cards, if we placed all our Christmas cards alongside each other, they would stretch around the world 500 times. When thinking about the world as a whole, that is an almost unimaginably large amount of waste.

There are many ways to reduce waste at Christmas, but one major way is by paying more attention to the way we wrap our Christmas presents. Buying from small, sustainable brands is likely to also reduce the amount of packaging on a present before you wrap it, and is a good place to start. After choosing your sustainable gifts, check out these more eco-friendly wrapping ideas.

  1. Newspaper. Many of us have a lot of newspaper lying around, and it makes great wrapping paper, reducing waste in multiple ways. It also makes for interesting reading during the unwrapping process! Although maybe not if it’s from this year…
  2. Try these wrapping bags by British designer Giles Deacon.
  3. Old packaging. If you receive lots of parcels or gifts throughout the year, save up the packaging to wrap your Christmas presents in. Crepe paper makes for pretty wrapping and saves you throwing it out too!
  4. If other people use wrapping paper at Christmas, ask them to carefully open their presents so you can collect it and use it next year – the longer the life of the paper, the less wasteful it is. 
  5. If you are keen to use wrapping paper, use recycled and recyclable options over anything else. Make sure it is FSC certified if not recycled so you know it is sourced responsibly. This is not as good as using none at all, but reduces waste. 
  6. Try Furoshiki, the Japanese tradition of using cloths rather than paper to wrap presents. This allows for the recipient to reuse the cloths too, and looks beautiful. Leave a little note on the gift so they know to keep the wrapping for future gifts. Check the ones we have from FabRap.
  7. Check out Etsy’s reusable gift wrapping section – this way you can support independent sellers too. 
  8. Use a reusable gift-bag. Most shops will offer these, and they save you painstakingly wrapping up presents. They also look great and festive, so the perfect option if you’re looking for something a little glam.
  9. Send e-cards. While not strictly gift wrapping, card giving is disappointingly un-eco-friendly. The Royal Mail estimates at least 1 billion cards are thrown out after Christmas. Opting for sites such as Paperless Post (which are often free) reduces waste and is quick and easy too – you can even choose the date you want the ‘card’ delivered to their inbox.