Here at Effortlessly Eco we like to help like-minded people share their voices! We will be holding a regular feature on our site, where guest bloggers can share a sustainability topic of their choosing. This week's blogger is Emma Kane.
Unwrapping the way to a sustainably packaged Christmas gift
Like many people in the run up to Christmas, I have already spent hours wrapping gifts. There’s not much that is more satisfying than a perfectly wrapped present under the tree. This year more than I ever though, the guilt of the ghost of wrapping-paper past has been weighing heavy on my heart. As a result, I have tried to make more sustainable decisions when it comes to my favourite festive hobby.
In the UK annually, each household will throw away at least four rolls of paper; across the country, that means we are chucking out 108million rolls of wrapping! Much of this paper is not recyclable, meaning that internationally, we off load 227,000 miles of wrapping paper into landfills every year (the same miles Santa would cover if he took the sleigh from London to Sydney over 100 times!).
Wrapping paper can be dyed, and contain items that are not made of paper, such as foil, glitter, and plastic. Cheaper wrapping papers like the ones you get in your 3 for £2 deal, contain poor quality fibres meaning they cannot be used again. The final straw for Christmas paper’s transition onto the naughty list, however, is sticky tape: with plastic tape still attached, wrapping paper simply cannot be recycled.
This blog is not all Scrooge though! Lord knows after the year we’ve had we could all use some pretty packaging to see us through to 2021. Below are some sustainable wrapping alternatives for insta-worthy presents, meaning you can keep the feelings of guilt for after the second box of Quality Street.
Paper and tags:
Brown paper will become the red nose to your Rudolph – you won’t do Christmas without it ever again! Although it still produces some waste, it is far easier to recycle and is also one of the cheapest options on the market! Better still, many mainstream retailers now sell recycled brown paper, like this one from Paperchase (£3.50 for 5m). As brown paper is not outrageously Christmassy, it also means that the receiver of your gift can re-use the paper for another occasion, reducing waste even further! That’ll definitely get you back onto the nice list.
Where necessary, I use cardboard name tags as they can also be recycled – some shop bought tags can’t be due to the plastic sheen finish on the front. Unlike patterned tags, cardboard tags are double sided meaning they can be used again. I’ve purchased these from Etsy as they are handmade and support small businesses (£3.93 for 50). If you want to be the top performing elf in the workshop, you can even upcycle your own tags from disused cardboard boxes.
Avoid foil ribbon and bows like they’re a snowstorm. Instead, you could opt for paper or re-useable options. I like to use twine which can be reused, or paper ribbon like this festive red from Hobbycraft - this is my second Christmas using the same roll, and I’m not even halfway through yet! It’s also a really sturdy option, meaning it will hold together presents without the need for tape! Fabric ribbon is also a great way to personalise Christmas wrapping, and the person on the receiving end can use the ribbon again, for a selection box of other uses.
Obviously, the best way to reduce waste is to refrain from using tape at all, instead using some of the above options to ensure you present makes it down the chimney securely. However, paper tape is also a great sustainable option if, like me, you strive to perfect those hard to wrap presents. Paper tape can be recycled, is often biodegradable, and will save you sifting through the ripped wrapping on Boxing Day to remove plastic tape. This year because of lockdown I ordered compostable tape from &Keep, but many of the high-street craft stores sell it if you’d like to reduce the carbon cost spent on delivery. This tape also has a smooth finish meaning you can write on it if you don’t want to waste tags.
Every UK council in the UK will accept paper for recycling, whilst 98% will accept card too. This means you’ve got no excuse to not become an angel on top of the tree this year, sleeping soundly on Christmas eve, in the knowledge that the presents below you are as eco-friendly (and as pretty!) as they can be.
Price breakdown of items mentioned:
You could even upcycle your Effortlessly Eco box, by covering it in brown paper, re-using the wood wool and filling it with treats inside!
We will regularly be featuring Guest Bloggers to write about a sustainability topic of their choice - if you are interested in being included please email email@example.com - thank you!