There’s a lot of joy to be had in the festive season, but undoubtedly, there’s a lot of potential waste, too. Just think of the metres of wrapping paper (which is not all recyclable), to the bows, ribbons, gift packaging, unwanted gifts and food waste – it all begins to mount up. In fact, the UK is estimated to be 30 per cent more wasteful during the festive period, with more than 100 million bags of rubbish being sent to landfill after Christmas, according to the GWP group.
While a more sustainable approach can be applied to many areas of the festive season, taking a closer look at what we use for gift wrapping seems an obvious choice. After all, in the UK we throw away an estimated 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each Christmas. Not only is it bad for the environment, it also costs the government a hefty sum to dispose of our festive waste.
So, what can you do to be more eco-friendly if you don’t want to completely shun the festive tradition of beautifully wrapped presents? First of all, choose your wrapping materials wisely. You may think any old wrapping paper can be popped in the recycling bin, but that’s not quite the case. Those decorated with foil, glitter, heavily dyed or laminated, not to mention paper covered in plastic sticky tape, will inevitably head to landfill. Recycle Now recommends trying the “scrunch test”: if paper is scrunched into a ball and stays like that, then it’s deemed okay for recycling as thinner papers are said to have less good quality fibres. They also advise removing any sticky tape, tags and decorations as these generally can’t be recycled.
Opting for something plain and simple, such as brown kraft paper, accessorised with some twine or ribbon, is a good bet, but there are also other ideas if you’re after something a little more fun. Plantable seed papers, reusable fabric wraps and boxes that’ll last long past Christmas are just some of the other options. In a bid to find greener alternatives this festive season, we’ve scoped out the best eco-friendly and plastic-free gift wrapping ideas for presents of all shapes and sizes.
How we tested
In our mission to find the best eco-friendly and plastic-free Christmas wrapping options, we searched high and low to find and test a variety of products that fitted the brief. We looked for wrapping ideas that were either recyclable or reusable. Materials and packaging were important in our assessment, and if any single-use plastic made its way in on delivery, we’ve tried our best to note this.
As well as examining the sustainability and eco-friendliness of the wrapping ideas, we also took into account other key considerations: quality, value for money, ease of use and design. We understand the importance of making more environmentally friendly choices, but also empathise with the desire for a beautifully wrapped gift at Christmas, so have tried to find products that ticked both boxes, whilst also still being simple to use. After all, there’s enough to do in the run-up to Christmas day, without getting into a tangle with all the wrapping.
The best eco-friendly and sustainable wrapping papers for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Ecovibe recyclable wrapping paper: From £2.49, Ecovibe.co.uk
- Best for beautiful design – Curlicue stars at dusk wrapping paper: £7.95, Itwontcosttheearth.com
- Best for a luxury feel – Bags of Ethicsgreat British designer wrapping bags: £15, Bagsofethics.org
- Best for children – Paperchase penguin pals kraft small gift box: £3.50, Paperchase.com
- Best furoshiki wraps – Kindly Yarn furoshiki fabric wraps: £15, Etsy.com
- Best for colourful prints – Storigraphic bountiful partridge and pear Christmas wrapping paper: £3, Storigraphic.com
- Best bottle bags – Ecovibe bottle bags: £4.99, Ecovibe.co.uk
- Best for decoration – Paperchase pastel kraft paper bows: £4.50, Paperchase.com
- Best gift tags – Ruby and Bo plantable seed gift tags: £5, Nationaltrust.org.uk
- Best for style lovers – Vintage scarf surprise bundle: £15 for three scarves, Fabricwrappingco.com