Single-use wrapping paper is one of the biggest culprits for unnecessary waste. According to carbon footprint experts Giki, around 11.8 million kilos of carbon dioxideare emitted each year from just manufacturing Christmas wrapping paper. In addition, around 50,000 trees are cut down to make enough wrapping paper to meet the demand. When it’s disposed of, and there’s an estimated 227,000 miles of wrapping paperthrown away each year, gift wrapping paper typically ends up in landfills because the foil or glitter makes it non-recyclable.
As we approach Christmas 2022, you might be wondering how you can help reduce this waste and make a positive difference to the planet. Well, we’re here to help, with our five top sustainable gift wrapping ideas.
How to Wrap Gifts Sustainably
To wrap your gifts more sustainably, you can:
Use Recyclable Wrapping Paper
Reuse Gift Bags
Switch to Sustainable Decorations
Create Fabric or Scrap Gift Wrap
1. Use Recyclable Wrapping Paper
First things first, switch to reusable and recyclable wrapping paper. You can still find nice designs that add that special touch, but without the waste. Recyclable wrapping paper will be made from biodegradable and compostable materials, and (ideally) decorated with eco-friendly vegetable inks. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid paper that is shiny, metallic, laminated or wax-coated, as well as paper that contains foil and glitter, as this can’t be recycled (unless specified otherwise).
According to All Things Supply Chain, if all wrapping paper waste was recycled, it would require 70% less energy than making it from raw materials, as we currently do. Indeed, just one tonne of recycled gift wrapping paper would save an estimated 17 trees, 18.7 square feet of landfill space, and 4,000 kilowatts.
Wondering if your existing wrapping paper can be recycled? Do the scrunch test! If you scrunch the paper and it remains scrunched, it can be recycled. If it doesn’t, it can’t be recycled. Before you put “unscrunchable” paper in the general waste bin, see if you can reuse or repurpose it. Don’t forget to remove sticky tape and non-recyclable gift tags, too.
2. Reuse Gift Bags
I have a cupboard full of immaculate gift bags that once housed gifts that I have received. Instead of purchasing new gift bags, which often can’t be recycled, I reuse them. Just pop your new gifts in the bag, and close them at the top to avoid spoiling the surprise. You should then encourage your recipients to do the same next year. If your gift bags contain tissue paper, you can reuse that too.
If your gift bags have reached the end of their life, and are non-metallic and don’t contain glitter or non-recyclable extras, these can be recycled in your local council’s recycling bin, bag or box.
Considering an eco-friendly gift hamper? Great! Repurpose an old gift bag to create the base and fill with goodies. Or, ditch the gift bags altogether and opt for a zero-waste hamper. At Wild & Stone, our hampers are wrapped in recyclable paper and presented in a beautiful bamboo basket — 100% zero waste.
3. Sustainable Decorations
From ribbons and bows to gift tags and glitter, the little extras on top of your gift wrap can help add that special touch. The problem is that a lot of these extras aren’t recyclable, and further contribute to unnecessary waste.
If you want to take your decoration to the next level, add foliage and herbs, such as dried rosemary sprigs, to your gifts.
When it comes to sticky tape, try to avoid it altogether as it can't be recycled. Instead, use washi tape, brown paper tape or natural cord/twine, or wrap your gifts origami-style — more on that next.
4. Create Fabric or Scrap Wrap
Take inspiration from the Japanese art of Furoshiki — traditional Japanese wrapping cloths used to wrap and/or transport goods — and create fabric wraps to wrap gifts. The only requirement is that the cloth must be square, and thick enough to contain your gift. Otherwise, you use the cloth to wrap a giftsimilar to how you would with traditional wrapping paper, and secure it with a knot. Depending on the shape and size of the gift, you can get super creative with how you display the final product.
If you haven’t got spare fabric, you can use scrap paper, magazines, newspaper or old maps to create a makeshift (and truly unique!) gift wrap.
5. Upcycle Containers
Last, but certainly not least, consider alternative containers. By this, we mean old ornaments, tins, glasses, jars and pots that can be upcycled and used to store and give gifts. Similar to fabric wraps, which are made from old or unused textiles, these upcycled containers can act as another gift in and of themselves.
Fill vintage jars with sweet treats, or turn them into planters to house a gifted plant. Use washed out pots to store beauty essentials, like cotton buds or hair ties, or to gift a homemade pair of earrings. The possibilities are endless!
And there you have it, five ways to be more sustainable when gifting this year. Got more suggestions? Leave a comment and share your thoughts below.