How To Create Maximum Effect With Minimum Environmental Impact
By Belinda Kelly
Nothing heightens the sense of anticipation on Christmas morning more than beautifully wrapped presents under the tree. But, as we all become more conscious of our environmental responsibilities, you might be wondering if that means you need to compromise on your wrapping paper and start wrapping presents in old socks instead.
Fortunately, we have some solutions for you. If you follow our tips below, you’ll be able to wrap presents with a clear conscience – no old socks required (although it’s always a fall-back option considering that’s how Christmas stockings originated)!
The key is choosing – and using – your materials carefully.
1. Choose Wrapping Paper From Responsible Sources
Reducing the environmental impact of gift wrapping doesn’t mean you can’t use lovely, printed, festive wrapping paper, although it is important to choose your paper carefully. Look out for paper with the FSC or PEFC logos, an indication that the paper has come from responsibly managed, sustainable forests. The good news is that this year, many shops have ditched the plastic wrap found around rolls of paper in favour of simple, recyclable paper labelling at the ends and middle of the roll.
2. Print Your Own Wrapping Paper
This is a great craft to do with kids and makes for wonderful, personalised wrapping paper. Simply choose a role of plain paper, such as brown parcel paper or perhaps a red or green matt finish paper, and then get creative with potatoes! Potato printing is great fun. Firstly, cut a potato in half and use a towel to absorb as much of the moisture as possible from the potato. Use a pencil to trace a simple festive shape, such as a Christmas tree or a star, and then carefully cut away the potato around the shape to create a stamp. Dip the potato in paint or ink and get stamping! Leave the paper to dry for at least 20 minutes before using.
3. Switch Sticky Plastic Tape For Recyclable Paper Tape
We Brits apparently use 40 million rolls of plastic sticky tape a year! It’s one of the biggest problems when it comes to recycling wrapping paper as the tape must be removed before the paper can be recycled. Fortunately, the variety of paper tape is growing and there are now festively printed options to enhance your wrapping. Look out for paper tape carrying the FSC logo and with a natural rubber adhesive. It can be recycled in your home recycling or it can be composted.
4. Brown Paper And String
Sometimes less is definitely more. A present wrapped simply in brown kraft paper and string requires no tape and can look very pretty, especially with a sprig of holly or fir tucked in. Because no tape has been used, the paper can be flattened out and saved for next Christmas or it can be popped straight into the recycling. The string can also be saved for later use.
5. Newspapers And Ribbon
If you still buy a newspaper – or know someone who does – it’s worth saving a few copies to switch up your wrapping paper! A (carefully selected) sheet of paper can look beautiful with a piece of coloured ribbon around it and a gift tag tied on. Once the present has been opened, the paper (assuming any plastic sticky tape has been removed) can go straight into the recycling bin and the ribbon saved for another time.
6. Tie On Gift Tags
Instead of sticking tags on with tape, tie them on instead. Either choose gift tags with a hole already punched that you can just thread string or ribbon through or punch a hole yourself using a hole punch. Brown parcel labels look very effective and can be decorated however you like – try potato printing them on one side.
7. Finishing Touches
There’s no need to spend a fortune on fancy present toppers – with a bit of foraging it’s possible to create your own, natural present toppers that look pretty and can be recycled or composted. Next time you’re on a walk or in the garden, look out for small, sprigs of foliage, or if you have a real tree, cut a few trimmings from it. Kitchen cupboards can be a great source of materials too – cinnamon sticks or star anise can be tied on or try slicing and drying oranges and apples. Mini homemade paper snowflakes also make a very effective decoration to tie onto presents.
8. Use Clever Folding Techniques
The Japanese are masters of the art of paper folding as anyone who has tried origami will know. A search on the internet will reveal a host of YouTube videos and how-to guides on a folding technique that requires minimal to no sticky tape. It might take a bit of practice, but once you have mastered it, it is apparently as quick as it is low-impact. You could try this technique using any of the wrapping papers we have recommended above. If you have found this article useful, you might also be interested in these articles.
Sources: https://www.stylist.co.uk/home/eco-friendly-christmas-wrapping-ideas/178770 https://pebblemag.com/magazine/doing/sustainable-gift-wrapping-ideas-to-try-this-christmas https://www.countryliving.com/uk/homes-interiors/g29809562/recyclable-wrapping-paper/ https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/the-health-hub/seasonal/sustainable-christmas-wrapping-ideas/ https://www.gwp.co.uk/guides/christmas-packaging-facts/ https://www.bhg.com/christmas/gift-wrapping/japanese-gift-wrapping/