Christmas all wrapped up?
So you’ve got the presents sorted, you’ve worked really hard to find lovely, local, crafted, sustainable gifts for people you love. Now how are you going to wrap them?
In the UK, over Christmas we send 1 billion cards and use 80 sq km of wrapping paper, much of which ends up in landfill.
A lot of people aren’t aware that some wrapping paper, ribbon, bows and some tags are not recyclable. Wrapping paper can only be recycled if it passes the scrunch test - if you scrunch it into a ball it stays (Recycle Now). Simple plain paper wrap can be recycled and you can buy wrapping paper with a portion of recycled content. Before recycling, remove any sticky tape and decorations such as ribbons and bows as these cannot be recycled. Shiny, foil or glitter-decorated paper cannot be recycled and needs to go in the general waste.
If you are giving an experience, that cuts out the wrapping. For physical gifts, think about what happens to everything you use to wrap a present for just one day.
Here are a few tips:
Make your own wrapping paper – take plain brown parcel paper, Christmas stamps and plant based inks and decorate your own paper & tags. That personal touch is always appreciated in my experience. Or if you have kids, get them involved in designing and crafting paper for each person.
Decorate a cardboard box - cut out images from cards, use paint - again, if you have kids get them to do some. Especially nice for gifts for other children but adults too!
Make or buy recycled fabric gift bags. There are some great fabrics out there in charity shops and recycling centres like Zero Waste Musselburgh. Look out for shimmery shiny satins and embroidered fabrics, kids themes or floral for a gardening enthusiast perhaps. Duvet covers and curtains come in amazing patterns and colours and have plenty of fabric in them. If you are lucky you might get them back next year!
Wrap as usual, but in fabric not paper. Keep your eyes peeled for pretty scarves, napkins or even tea towels in your local thrift or charity shops - they are an extra present! Fasten with ribbon, twine or string and decorate with a sprig of green or a pine cone.
For a slightly more technical fabric wrapping style, try your hand at the Japanese art of furoshiki . Wrapping gifts in fabric is a tradition and they look sensational. If a YouTube tutorial doesn’t appeal try a workshop with Furoshiki Giftwrap at Wee Red Upcycles in Haddington on 3rd December.
Make the wrapping the gift and use a reusable shopping bag, or fruit/veg bag to wrap the gift and encourage the recipient to use from then on. This is sometimes a handy sideways nudge at a friend or relative who is shy of the eco-warrior call to arms!
Recycled paper gift bags can be reused if you don’t write on them – tie rather than tape the top together.
A top tip for tags is to use last year’s Christmas cards. We have done this for years. Either just use the picture half (recycle the written half) or cut out pictures from the card and use those. A hole punch and a piece of twine and you have an (almost) free gift tag.
If you must buy gift wrap, purchase paper with high percentage recycled content and after Christmas, make sure to recycle your gift wrap.
A tricky final step – talk to your friends and relatives about how they wrap their presents and see if you can keep the recycling to a minimum. Take care opening gifts from others that are wrapped in unrecyclable paper, ribbon and other decoration – you can use it for crafting, covering a notebook, making next year’s decorations etc.
When it comes to the big day, if you are unsure if your carefully crafted wrappings (or those used by others) will be reused or recycled, gather them up and take them away with you. No one will mind an extra helping hand to clear up!
If you have top tips for a waste-free Christmas we would love to hear from you. Pop a comment below.
Happy wrapping xx