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5 eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas for Christmas

by Folksy

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…

Featured image: Linocut robin gift tags by Eynhallow Design – hand carved onto a rubber based surface, inked up and hand printed in their studio in Fife, Scotland

* according to asustainablelife.co.uk

ecofriendly Christmas tape with Christmas illustrations
Christmas eco friendly paper tape by Lulu and Nova

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, water-based inks – made easy with this print your own leaf sprig kit, made by printmaker Lizzie Mabley. When you’ve finished customising your wrapping paper, add some eco-friendly decorative tape by Lulu and Nova 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 this luxury hand printed Christmas gift wrap by Betsy Badge.

See more in our Christmas Wrapping Paper guide>

reusable christmas pouch for sustainable gifting
Hand embroidered lined Christmas gift bag by Coast and Cloth

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!

eco-friendly reusable Furoshiki style Christmas Wrapping Paper

This eco-friendly Furoshiki style fabric wrap (above) features a Partridge and a Pear Tree lino-print, hand stamped by Half Sponge Art on to a piece of cotton, to be used and reused over again. Or if you’re looking for a pouch, perfect for sprucing up a Secret Santa present, this cute Christmas draw string pouch made by Not a Fox is sure to do the trick.

Find Eco-Friendly Gifts to wrap >

reusable Christmas gift tag
Christmas gnome gift tag and tree decoration by Zedig Design

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! These ceramic snowflake decorations by Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics are the perfect little keepsake and would be easy to store for next year .

These embroidered ‘grow’ gift tags by Coast and Cloth 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 >

Find more Reusable Christmas Gift Tags on Folksy >

Embroidered ‘grow’ gift tags by Coast and Cloth

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?

Find more craft inspiration in our ‘Tutorials’ section of the blog >

plastic free collage Christmas cards
‘Tidings of joy’ Christmas card by Natasha Lee Studio

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.

Send kisses across the miles with this mistletoe Christmas card by CottageRts, which arrives in a compostable sleeve. Post this cute plastic-free whippet Christmas card by Aimee Mac Illustration to someone in need of winter wishes. 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.

Shop for plastic-free ‘naked’ Christmas cards on Folksy >

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.

Read more in our Sustainable Shopping series here >

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