Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas

Eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas are more popular – and more needed – than ever. If you’re trying your hardest to have a sustainable Christmas, try some of these sustainable gift wrap hacks.

We adore a well-wrapped gift. Whether it be an ostentatious bow, uniquely patterned paper or a stylish colour scheme, we get a thrill from dreaming up with a new concept every year. Plus, they look ever so pretty positioned underneath a beautifully-decorated Christmas tree. 

But with searches for sustainable wrapping paper up by 24% this year alone, it feels increasingly important to remain environmentally conscious will celebrating and, if we’re honest, we’ve never felt great about the huge amounts of Christmas wrapping paper that is wasted and thrown in the bin every January. Thanks to the mix of materials used on some of the flashiest of wrapping, like metallic or glitter, many materials can’t be recycled and contribute to our climate crisis.

So if like us, you’d like your Christmas gift wrapping to be more eco-friendly, take stock of these environmentally conscious ideas. From ways you can recycle old wrapping paper to alternative techniques and products to use, we’ve put together some top tips for making your Christmas gift wrapping more eco-friendly. 

  • Invest in an eco-friendly alternative

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: gift bags

    Environmentally-minded brands have started catching on to the wasteful nature of gift wrap, and many independent businesses have created a particularly easy-to-use solution.

    Etsy has a great selection of handmade gift bags in all shapes, sizes and colours. Each one is a different size, varying from a small bag that would fit a piece of jewellery in it to a larger bag that would work for an item of clothing. The bags themselves are often made from scrap or sustainable cotton material, which gets an eco-friendly thumbs up from us, too.

    Buy handmade gift bags from Etsy, starting from £2.99

    Buy now

  • Aim for zero waste

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: reusable paper

    If you’re left with a small section at the end of a roll of wrapping paper, don’t throw it out. Instead, layer your scraps – either by looping one small section on top of another, or by creating a half-and-half effect. This is a simple trick but it instantly upgrades your wrapping game. It also means you won’t waste any paper – a problem which can be especially frustrating if you have spent hard-earned cash on a beautiful roll of paper (or accidentally cut a piece that’s too small).

    Kraft wrapping paper like this 100% recycled pick from Not On The Highstreet helps to ensure you’ll have little to no wastage after all the presents are under the tree.

    Buy recycled kraft wrapping paper from Not On The Highstreet, £6.99

    Buy now

  • Start collecting old gift bags

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: gift bags

    Do away with gift wrap altogether and pass your gifts on to their new owner in a recycled gift bag. This means less ripped-up paper that will likely never be used again, and you get to keep the element of surprise. The great thing is your gift bag will (hopefully) stay intact during the present opening, which means you can use it again and again. The RSPB has an adorable selection of woodland-inspired recycled gift bags, the proceeds of which go towards protecting birds and wildlife in the UK.

    You could even go one step further and craft them yourself!

    Buy RSPB recycled gift bags, starting from £3

    Buy now

  • Swap real ribbons for drawn on versions

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: recycled tape

    If you’re suspicious that all of the ribbons and gift tags that you plan on lovingly buying and wrapping your Christmas gifts in, will likely be thrown in the bin after being opened, there’s a way to decorate your presents in a more sustainable way.

    Enter: recyclable paper tape. Often made fromFSC paper and natural rubber-based adhesive, it’s recyclable in your home recycling bin as well as biodegradable/home-compostable. We love this mistletoe print from Cadeaux Paperworks.

    You can even take it one step further, too. Instead of accumulating more waste with present-toppers, why not whip out a Sharpie and simply scribble on a fun bow, ribbon or gift tag design instead?

    Buy recycled paper tape from Cadeaux Paperworks, £6.95

    Buy now

  • Forage for decorations

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: forage for decorations

    Present trimmings gathered from nature not only look impressive, they’re easy to source too. If you’ve invested in a real Christmas tree, the easiest option is to take a few small cuttings from a selection of innocuous branches – spruce, pine and fir cuttings look best paired with simple brown paper and natural twine.

    Even if you don’t have a real tree, alternative trimmings can be foraged from your garden or a local park – try holly leaves, pine cones, winterberries, a sprig from a pretty shrub, or even dried leaves.

  • Use eco-friendly supplies

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: furoshiki knot wrap

    If you really want to cut down on waste, consider using fabric gift bags instead of paper. If you’re up for a bit of sewing, drawstring pouches are easy to make and can be reused by the person receiving your gift – either again as a gift bag, or for travel and storage.

    Alternatively you could try Furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping tradition using fabric cloths that are made to be reused – just include a note with the gift with instructions on how to reuse the cloths. If you do opt for paper wrapping, choose recycled and recyclable options over anything else (for example, glitter and foil covered cards and wrapping paper are said to be non-recyclable, as they can clog recycling machinery).

    We’re loving Battle Green Box, the independent Etsy seller behind these beautifully printed zero-waste furoshiki knot wraps. 

    Buy reusable Christmas gift wrap, Etsy, £5.95

    Buy now

  • Reuse and recycle materials

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: reusing old materials

    There should be no shame in collecting old wrapping supplies and reusing them later on – especially if you’ve been the recipient of carefully wrapped gifts complete with real ribbon and expensive paper.

    Look out for embellishments that you might collect in everyday life, too – for example, luxury shopping purchases sometimes come wrapped in scented tissue paper and ribbon. If you’re feeling especially resourceful, you could use pages from newspapers or magazines as wrapping paper, and even plain brown paper bags can be reused in place of a roll of gift wrap.

  • Stick to recycled paper

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: recycled wrapping paper

    If you love the excitement of ripping the paper off a present on Christmas morning, there are plenty of options that still allow you to do so, guilt free.

    Spruce & Stripe double sided recycled gift wrap is a gorgeous option and printed on 100% recycled stock. It’s available in folded packs of two sheets, as well as a new flat sheet option. Wrapping has never been easier.

    Buy Spruce & Stripe recycled gift wrap from Katie Leamon, from £5

    Buy now

  • Ditch gift wrap for old newspapers

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: newspaper

    If you’re the kind of person who already gets a newspaper delivered daily, or even weekly, you could hold on to a few and use them for giftwrap instead. The monochrome print looks striking next to red ribbon or gold twine, and this means that you don’t have to make a last minute dash to the shops to fight your way through the Christmas crowds, too. 

  • Look in your kitchen cupboards

    Eco-friendly Christmas wrapping ideas: cinnamon and dried orange slices

    Pssst: another set of beautiful trimmings are hiding in your kitchen cupboard. Grab some sprigs of rosemary first: these not only look great but smell fantastic, too. Next up, dry some orange slices and pair these with a few cinnamon sticks – again, this is fragrant wrapping at its best.

    You could even swap out the gift tags for gingerbread alternatives: before baking, use a drinking straw to cut out a hole which will allow the tags to be strung onto gifts, and once they’re finished either leave them plain or label with writing icing.

  • Don’t overlook cards

    While they may seem like it, greeting cards aren’t always recyclable. Yes, they’re largely made from paper and can be dumped en masse in your paper recycling bin without worrying. That is, unless they have foil or glitter on them.

    But rather than mass-produced boxes, why not take the opportunity to do something good for the environment and support independent businesses? Companies like Washed Up Cards have clever initiatives where rubbish collected from beach cleaning is turned into sustainable, handmade cards. 

    Find out more

Images: Getty

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