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sustainable alternatives to using wrapping paper this christmas

Wrapping paper is one of the most wasteful paper products we use as a society. The epitome of a single-use product, it’s designed to be excitedly ripped open and unceremoniously discarded.

Research by OnePoll found that, just in the UK, we throw away over 100 million rolls of wrapping paper every Christmas. Despite an increase in recycling in recent years, there’s still a huge amount of waste generated by Christmas and throughout the year due to birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and other gift-giving occasions. And let’s not forget that plenty of wrapping paper - the sparkly, shiny ones especially - aren’t even recyclable!

Of course, recycling is important - but wouldn’t it be great if all that waste wasn’t generated in the first place? Here are some alternatives to using sparkly single use wrapping paper this holiday season. 

Cloth wraps make a great alternative

Instead of single-use paper, try a bento bag or Furoshiki wrap. Not only will you be wrapping your gifts sustainably, but you’ll be doubling up and giving the lucky recipient an extra present that can be used all year round!

Bento bags are traditionally designed to wrap lunch boxes, so won’t be able to fit larger gifts (ours come in several sizes, but the biggest is about a foot long). A few books or video games will fit perfectly, but anything much larger and you might struggle. 

bento bags reusable gift wrap zero waste uk


Furoshiki wraps can be much more flexible, and can comfortably wrap up gifts like bottles of booze, shoe boxes, or electronics.  

Reuse cloth you’d otherwise throw away

If you find yourself with some spare curtains, old towels, or unneeded bed sheets, you can give them a new purpose in life by chopping them up into 1 metre squares (you can even hem the edges if you’re feeling particularly snazzy) and putting them to work as reusable gift wrap. You can also create your own wraps by using scarves picked up at charity shops.

Brown paper is simple and chic

If you’re dedicated to a paper wrapping, try brown paper. It’s easy to buy in bulk, much cheaper than regular wrapping paper, and you can jazz up your paper however you like to keep it within a chosen theme or aesthetic. Try stamping the paper to make it more unique, and wrap it with spare yarn, string or twine. Finally, keep it zero waste and eco friendly by using compostable paper tape rather than cellotape.

Ask people to use sustainable wrapping alternatives

If you’ve got a birthday, baby shower or wedding coming up, you’re the one who gets to make the rules! Just ask your gift-givers to think before they wrap and choose the eco option. Specify paper-free wrapping on your invitations, or simply ask for no wrapping at all. It's not really needed most of the time anyway.


How will you keep your gifts more low waste this holiday? Will you choose bento bags, furoshiki, brown paper, or something completely different? Share your zero waste gift wrapping ideas below!  

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