Sustainable Gift Wrapping: Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas for a Greener Christmas

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s not always such a joyous time for the planet.

Ireland is expected to generate 95,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas, while in the UK alone around 30% more waste, or around three million tonnes, is generated and discarded throughout the Christmas period. holidays compared to the rest of the year. .

One of the biggest impacts of the holiday season on the planet is the purchase of excessive amounts of single-use gift wrap, which has significant implications for the environment and household budgets.

Reasons to Avoid Using Traditional Wrapping Paper

The wrapping paper you find in supermarkets and card shops is made from poor quality fibers that are dyed, coated in plastic and decorated with glitter (also plastic), making it almost impossible to recycle .

It’s important to note that wrapping paper can only be recycled if it passes the crinkle test – just crumple (crumple) the paper into a ball in your hand. If it stays in a ball, throw it in the recycling. But if it loses its shape, it means that it must be sent to the dump.

Plain wrapping paper can be recycled, but foil or glitter-decorated foil cannot and should be disposed of in general waste.

Crumpled and discarded wrapping paper and Christmas crackers

Most glitter is made from etched aluminum attached to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of microplastic that can contaminate water, soil, and air. Its increased presence in all three may pose a threat to human health and ecosystems, according to Scientific American.

It is also important to remember that Sellotape is not recyclable. This makes it a big culprit when it comes to plastic waste related to gift wrapping. Because it cannot be recycled, each shred of duct tape must be completely removed from the discarded wrapping paper.

Plastic bows can also be a popular choice for gift givers looking to add an extra touch to their gift, but they are not an eco-friendly option. Like all types of plastic, they do not biodegrade but break down into microplastics.

For those looking to make this year’s Christmas more sustainable, why not try some of these unique and eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas.

brown kraft paper

Brown kraft paper is an excellent substitute for traditional gift wrapping paper as it is biodegradable and can be widely recycled. Not only is it good for the planet, but it also always looks great, with minimal effort.

You can give the wrapper a more festive look by adding silky—and reusable—red ribbon, a sprig of holly, or a decoration made of twigs and baubles.

For small gifts, stick them in a natural brown kraft paper bag for easier wrapping. You can also use vegetable dyes to stamp your own festive design onto the plain paper.

If you want to reduce your Christmas waste even further, the cardboard inner tube that this paper is wrapped around can be reused to store or send posters, paintings and more.


Newspapers and magazines can create unique organic gift wrap and are a great opportunity to keep recycling.

Even if you don’t pick up a newspaper often, you can still find free newspaper by asking friends and neighbors for extras or even going to your local coffee shop for oldies.

Christmas present wrapped in newspaper

Newsprint is both recyclable and biodegradable, making it more affordable and sustainable than traditional wrapping paper. And by reusing before recycling, you relieve the recycling industry.

Gifts wrapped in newspaper look chic and minimal, and each saves another sheet of wrapping paper from going to the landfill. Once you’ve wrapped your gift, you can even add a festive touch – try a few sprigs of rosemary, holly or eucalyptus.

Boxes and boxes

With many of us opting for online shopping rather than high street trips to get this year’s Christmas presents, chances are you’ll have a stash of boxes waiting to come. be recycled.

This year, instead of throwing them away, you can color them with paint, dress them up with fabric ribbons, or even go a step further and decorate them with personal photos of you and the recipient.

If you want to get more creative, you can use old cereal and shoe boxes and nest them inside each other so the recipient has to keep unwrapping until they reach the gift.

Plus, if you have old cookie tins or tea canisters lying around, they can easily be turned into gift boxes without needing to go out and buy anything extra, although you may need to be adding a few layers of fabric, shredded paper or parchment. .

Crispy packets

Want to add a sparkly look to your gift? Why not use repurposed crisp bags? All you have to do is carefully open the crispy bag in a flat sheet and wash it with dish soap to remove all remaining crumbs and grease.

Once it’s dry, you then wrap your gift, exposing the shiny silver side on the outside.

Under new home recycling measures introduced in September, soft plastics such as crispy bags can be put in your recycling bin at home, meaning your gift wrap won’t clog the landfill once unwrapped.


Furoshiki is a square piece of eco-friendly cloth or fabric and mainly used for wrapping gifts and carrying items, fashion and home decor.

The custom of using furoshiki originated in Japan around 710 BC. AD to the Nara period, and the phenomenon of gift wrapping has taken the Western world by storm in recent years.

All you need is the fabric itself and you can reuse it as many times as you want.

Wrapping gifts in fabric or cloth can be a great way to give someone a present this year.

You can use furoshiki to wrap just about anything. They look great around a bottle of wine, candles, and even the oddest shaped objects.

The fabric can be any pattern or color, but should be square (equal measurements on all sides) and large enough to fully cover the object. You can get creative with the fabric you use; whether it’s vintage scarves, bandanas, tablecloths, old clothes or scraps of fabric.

Glass jars

Glass jars are another great zero waste gift wrapping idea. Smaller jars can be used for jewelry giving, while larger ones can hold food-related gifts, like chocolate or candy, while making amazing candle holders.

You can reuse any jars you already have, just tie string or ribbons around the top to decorate and it only costs you the ingredients to craft. If you don’t have glass jars at home, chances are you can find some at your local charity store.

To top it off, when you use glass jars for gift giving, you’re also giving the recipient a reusable container they can use to fill whatever they want.

pages of old books

If you have a gift for an avid book reader in your life, why not take pages from an old book you have around the house and turn it into a clever and unique gift wrap?

The material works great as gift wrap as it doesn’t tear easily and you can use the pages with your favorite quotes to show your loved one how much they mean to you.

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