I’ve always been last minute when it comes to Christmas. I buy presents the week before and as a result I do all my wrapping a day or two before the 25th if I’m lucky. So, apologies if this post is too late for those of you who have wrapped all your presents already! I love Christmas but sometimes the amount of waste and excessive over consumption at this time of year really gets me down. One problem is that we accidentally buy presents that people don’t want or need, as a way of showing our affection. It’s easy to do, I know I’m guilty of feeling like I haven’t bought people “enough” when really just getting them anything at all shows that you care. I’ll be baking people gifts, making them a card or searching for something that catches my eye in a charity shop when I’m not sure what to get them. This George Monbiot article sums up the issue with unwanted gifts better than I ever could.
Another potential issue with Christmas is that there’s so much waste created by wrapping paper. The vast majority of wrapping paper isn’t recyclable and so enormous quantities end up in landfill every year. Annually, 50,000 trees are cut down to make enough wrapping paper for Christmas, which effects both the ecosystems where the trees are taken from and the climate because those trees are no longer around to take in carbon from the atmosphere. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can wrap gifts beautifully without single use wrapping paper! My top tip is to avoid sellotape (just tie with ribbon instead!) and shiny wrapping paper, as neither of these are recyclable. If you are using these, consider unwrapping carefully and peeling off tape so the paper can be used again next year. My Dad scours Loughborough market every Christmas to find old wrapping paper without the plastic coating that destines it for landfill – dedication!
1. Scarf Wrap
Lush have been offering scarf-wrapped gift sets for years now, and it’s a great way to make a present look pretty without paper. I will be using silk scarves on the presents for my family that will be opened in front of me, because I can sneakily ask for the scarf back afterwards, haha. You could also give the scarf as part of the present – silk scarves are easy to come across cheaply in charity and vintage shops. Just make sure the person you’re giving it to would actually like the scarf, otherwise it might get wasted, which defeats the point. Neck-ties and woolly scarfs are both good choices for alternatives to wrapping paper!
2. Newspaper and Recycled Ribbon
If you can find a less depressing page of the newspaper, I actually think it makes really cute gift wrap with a retro vibe. This present is tied together solely with ribbon (no sellotape in sight!) meaning the newspaper can be recycled after it’s unwrapped. If you receive gifts or parcels throughout the year, keep any ribbon that comes with it so you can use it for other people’s gifts. I actually find a lot of online fashion retailers and Etsy shops use ribbon / tissue paper in their parcels, which I always add to my stash. This way, you’ll never have to buy new ribbon again!
3. Shoe Boxes and Recycled Christmas Cards
When giving someone lots of little presents, it can be easier to present them in a box, rather than wrapping them all individually. I thought this shoe box was kinda fancy looking, and I liked the red colour, so it makes a perfectly festive present when decorated with a ribbon. The individual gifts are simply covered in tissue paper (with no sellotape!) that can be re-used next year. Another trick is to recycle old Christmas cards into gift tags so you never have to buy any from the shops. The front of the card rarely has writing on it (unless someone’s been writing you an essay!) so it can be cut out and used as a tag for the next year.
4. Vintage Wrapping Paper
Even though this does have the potential to create waste, using vintage wrapping paper is better than buying paper new. Dollymix Vintage in Leicester put out this beautiful vintage paper every year. I love the traditional Christmas aesthetic (The Nutcracker is my favourite Christmas tradition!) so the retro designs are right up my street. It’s quite thick and I’ve sealed the present with just a ribbon, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to use the paper again. There is lots of old wrapping paper floating around vintage shops and charity shops at this time of year, so keep your eyes peeled for a bargain!
I hope this was useful and I’m also interested in whether there’s anything you do to reduce waste at Christmas time? Please share your tips with me!