It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… Well, not where I am actually. The sun is shining and in between shows I’m at the beach. But regardless of where you are or what you celebrate, we can’t deny that the holidays are fast approaching. Over the month of December I’ll be talking about ethical and sustainable gifts, but it’s time to get prepared for that one element that’s often an afterthought – wrapping paper.
So instead of a last minute thing, let’s really think about how we wrap our gifts. As The Guardian pointed out way back in 2010, ‘Laid end to end, the wrapping paper chucked away each year in the UK would stretch around the equator nine times. Single use of a resource like this is quite horrible. All paper has three major environmental flashpoints: the harvesting of the trees, processing of wood fibre into pulp, and disposal of the product. Recycling is not the win it might seem – in most authorities its collection and processing puts extra pressure on MRFs (Materials Recycling Facilities) and it has little recoverable value. Today’s wrapping papers are a composite of synthetic inks, plastic film, chlorine and metal-based foils and glitters. There is also a bit of tree. The US World Resources Institute recently analysed the fibre of 32 consumer paper products, including wrapping papers, finding fibres from some of the most endangered trees in three of them.’
Literally everything in that quote is gross. Plastic film, chlorine and synthetic ink? Hard pass. You could always go wrapping free if you wanted, but if you’re still keen for some fancy presentation, here are my top picks for a less wasteful wrap:
Like wrapping paper, you can find fabric in a variety of colours and styles. You can repurpose fabric from your home that you’re not using any more (think sheets, tablecloths, pillow cases etc), pick up a load of the stuff at good thrift stores or find material offcuts online. Fabric is everywhere! Instead of tape you can secure with a pin, tie in a knot, or tie with string. Once it’s opened, all of these items can be saved again for next year. One time investment = wrapping for life. If you’re having trouble finding pre-loved fabric, companies like LilyWrap and ecoChici have got you covered.
Despite the age of the internet, we’re still surrounded by paper all the time. So why buy special new paper when we could just utilise what we already have? Save up newspaper for the festive season, or carefully save paper bags when you get them, to utilise later for wrapping.
Recycled Wrapping Paper
If you absolutely insist on buying paper, there are companies out there with a much greener way of doing things, often using post-consumer recycled waste and chemical free processes. Companies like Wrappily, Nashville Wraps and Re-Wrapped provide gift wrap made from recycled paper, and printed using vegetable and soy based inks.
Tape and Twine
For those final touches to neatly wrap your package, you can find greener alternatives to keep your gift tidy. For tape – Japanese Washi tape is made from the gampi tree, bamboo, hemp, rice, or wheat, and is both reusable and biodegradable. You can buy from Cute Tape or Wishy Washy. For twine – Whisker Graphics and Hemptique sell twine made from cotton, bamboo or hemp (however neither claim their cotton is GOTS certified, so maybe go with the other materials).
So those are my favourites, I’ve been wrapping with newspaper for years now and it’s always worked a treat for me. Do you have any other eco suggestions? Let me know!
Until next time, stay magic y’all.