Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but hidden behind all the joy and sparkle is the truth about waste. Waste produced around Christmas is a perfect example of how the way that we consume products and food is starting to get out of control and have a major impact on the planet. What we need to do is be aware of the impacts of Christmas waste and try to do something about it. One major wastage that is overlooked is Christmas present wrapping. The more I think about it the more ridiculous it seems. All present wrapping serves to is add more packaging waste to gifts, yet it is a major part of our Christmas experience.
Practically this is something that is never going to change about Christmas, and honestly, I do love wrapping up little surprises for people. So the question for me is, how can we make it have less of an environmental impact? I did some research to see the impact of Christmas waste on the environment and this is what I found.
226,000 miles of wrapping in the UK alone each year ends up in the bin, along with 40 million rolls of the sticky tape. For every 176 people, 1 tree is used to send Christmas cards and for every 1 billion cards that are discarded 330 million trees are required to make them in the first place. All of this makes me think the debate about whether a plastic tree or a real tree is better for the environment seems a bit like we are looking at the wrong problem. Every year the festive period creates an extra 30% of rubbish on top of what we are already producing and this all adds up to be about 3 million tonnes of waste.
So what can you do about it?
Here are some reusable Christmas wrapping options which I have found as well as recyclable one's for you to choose what works best for you this festive season. Because we don't need to stop our traditions to be more eco-friendly, just tweak them a bit.
1) Furoshiki wrapping
Furoshiki refers to a square piece of fabric which is used for a multitude of different functions depending on how you decide to wrap it. The term Furoshiki refers to the action of wrapping and folding (similar to origami) but also to the fabric itself. When I was looking for tutorials on how to use Furoshiki I came across Zusetsu and they're wonderful selection of fabrics. Furoshiki is not only a reusable option for wrapping paper but a brilliant tool for other daily life activities such as plastic-free shopping bags. It's no wonder that Furoshiki is becoming a popular option for people seeking to live a more minimalist and waste-free lifestyle. In my opinion, it helps make gift giving more personal and artistic. I am not so good with origami but love the idea of using fabric to make a multitude of useful items and decorate your home and gifts. Click here for a link to Zusetsu's wrapping tutorials, My favourite is the Simple Wrap and Ribbon Wrap!
I have tried to make my own Furoshiki from some old fabric this year. What do you think?
If you aren't the sewing type you can buy some very lovely Furoshiki on Etsy and other eco-friendly stores which I will leave a link to below.
Where you can buy Furoshiki:
These are my three favourites:
2)Lush has a lovely range of Furoshiki that you can shop here for around £5.
2) Fabric gift pouches
Fabric gift pouches and bags are an alternative to the soft-card present bags which are so abundant this time of year. Gift bags are not entirely single-use but the type of paper and card used means they are easily damaged which can lead to them being thrown away. Many of which are covered in glitter, while being very pretty, makes them contaminated and unable to be recycled. Finding a reusable alternative is the best way to keep with our favourite traditions of gift-giving without hurting the planet.
3) Parcel Paper
Brown paper or parcel paper is a great sustainable swap from regular wrapping paper because it is recyclable. While there are many recyclable wrapping paper options available now, brown paper is the most reliable alternative. As most of this years Christmas shopping will be done online and possibly from amazon, it might be worth saving any brown packing paper sent with old parcels to reuse.
The best part about the brown paper is that you can decorate it for any occasion using stamps, twine, ribbon or even draw on it. This is a great option if you want to keep your cost down and are happy to get creative.
4) Recycled/ Recyclable Wrapping Paper
If you are unable to get your hands on brown paper, and not up for some sewing then scanning the shelves at your local supermarket for some recyclable paper is the next best thing. These days they have some lovely and fun designs to choose from. Just make sure that you are also using paper sticky tape as otherwise it is contaminated by the usual plastic tape making it unrecyclable.
5) Last Year's wrapping paper
Have you got paper from last year? Make sure to use this up before buying any more. Because the most sustainable option is usually the one you already have! You don't have to start buying lots of brown paper to be more eco-friendly if you already have an option at home. Use what you have first and work out what extra you might need.
6) Use pre-loved gift bags
I end up keeping so many old gift bags these days because I can't bear them to go to waste. If you get given single-use present bags this Christmas, save them for next year. Just make sure you don't regift them to the same person who gave them to you!
7) Brown/ recycled gift bags
As stores are becoming more environmentally conscious, more eco-friendly options are becoming available in shops. Make sure to look out for brown paper gift bags this Christmas or ones made from recycled materials. I found mine from my local Co-Op for less than £1 each.
8) Tote bags
Tote bags are a great option for large gifts and are also a useful gift in themselves. A plain canvas tote bag has a lot of potentials if you want to dye it or paint on it to make it look seasonal or prettier. But on websites like Etsy or Depop, you can easily find gorgeous tote bags which would be perfect to double as a present bag and a useful gift.
*Paper sticky tape
* Paper ribbon
Furoshiki is my favourite option for reusable gift wrapping but there are so many to choose from! You don't have to stick to one type of eco-friendly wrapping so do whatever works for you this Christmas. Let me know what you decide to use in the comments below!