A sustainable Christmas, all wrapped up
It’s easy to get “wrapped up” in the excitement of Christmas, but how about our gift wrap? Can that be sustainable and exciting too? Did you know that the UK uses on average 27,000 miles* of wrapping paper every year, and that lots of the wrapping paper available in shops have plastic coatings, metallic foils and glitter that can’t be recycled – making it an eco-nightmare? Christmas cards are mostly easier to deal with – except we still end up sending 1 billion of them to landfill each year. So, apart from recycling more, what can we do?
Here are 5 small changes we can make to the way we gift presents this Christmas…
* according to asustainablelife.co.uk
1. Avoid plastic-coated wrapping paper and go brown!
The wrapping paper you often see in stores now, with all their shine and sparkle, are usually coated in plastic to make them stronger and less likely to tear. They’re generally packaged using single-use plastics too. Any wrapping paper with this plastic coating can’t be recycled – and the same goes with wrapping paper with glitter.
To see if your wrapping paper is recyclable, try ripping it or do the wrapping paper test. If it scrunches it can be recycled!
Or… instead of buying paper that isn’t sustainable, try the more eco-friendly alternative: brown wrapping paper! Also known as kraft paper, brown paper is better for the environment because it’s unbleached, recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. Read more about the benefits of brown paper here – https://www.beeco.green/facts/is-brown-paper-recyclable/
Brown paper is also versatile, so you can customise your wrapping. Try drawing or printing on it with eco-friendly inks – made easy with this Christmas linocut print craft kit by Clever Hands. When you’ve finished customising your wrapping paper, add some for a more festive touch.
If you’d rather leave it to the professionals, you can buy gorgeous wrapping paper from indie designers making small batches. We love Betsy Badge’s Christmas gift wrap, handprinted in linseed oil inks on kraft paper.
2. Choose reusable fabric wraps and sacks
How wonderful would it be to receive the gift of reusable? Fabric wraps and pouches or ‘Furoshiki’-style wrapping cloths can be used time and time again. When you give someone their present, ask them to wrap their next gift in it and pass it on. That way, you’ll be spreading the good news of fabric wraps each time it’s reused!
Search for Furoshiki-style fabric wraps on Folksy >
Or plump for a gorgeous fabric gift bag, which make gorgeous gifts in themselves.
3. Reuse gift tags
Gift tags contribute to a large amount of the waste we create every Christmas. But they feature beautiful illustrations and patterns, so why not keep them and decorate with them! Get your creativity flowing and get crafting!
Gift tags don’t have to be single use either. Choose tags made from wood, glass or clay, and use them as decorations for years to come! The wooden Secret Santa gift tags by KDeeDesigns pictured above could be used for many years to come.
The embroidered ‘grow’ gift tags by Coast and Cloth (pictured below) could double up as place-settings or used as little hanging decorations afterwards.
You could even make your own gift tags by upcycling old cereal boxes! This is also a great way to use up any pieces of wrapping paper you might have left over from last Christmas. Follow this simple tutorial >
4. Get creative with old Christmas cards and leftover wrapping paper
Get crafty and make your own decorations with leftover Christmas materials. Get the children involved by creating simple but effective paper chains from used wrapping paper – or if you want something a bit more advanced, have a go at our beautiful paper star tutorial, taught by Folksy seller The Whimsical Marbler.
Check through all your Christmas cards before throwing them in the recycling bin. Are there any that are so special they deserve to be framed, become a new piece of mixed-media art, collaged or turned into hanging decorations? Or can you upcycle them into new cards to send out next year?
5. Look for ‘naked’ plastic-free Christmas cards
Take a small step in becoming more eco-friendly by choosing ‘naked’ cards – cards that come without a cellophane sleeve – or cards sold in compostable wrappers.
CottageRts have a range of Christmas cards which arrive in a compostable sleeves, while Aimee Mac Illustration is another illustrator who always avoids plastic. Or if you’re in need of a bundle, these eco-friendly snowdrop Christmas cards by Beth Knight Art come in a pack of five, and are packaged using recycled or recyclable materials wherever possible. You’ll find lots more artists and illustrators on Folksy who are choosing to ditch the plastic.
We hoped you enjoyed our series of articles on how to have a more sustainable Christmas. All that remains is for us to wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May it be one filled with eco-friendly choices for a healthier planet and a better future for us all.