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Eco-friendly Christmas gift wrapping ideas

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Megan Murray
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Eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas are more popular – and more needed – than ever. If you’re trying your hardest to have a sustainable Christmas, try some of these sustainable gift wrap hacks.

We adore a well-wrapped gift. Whether it be an ostentatious bow, uniquely patterned paper or a stylish colour scheme, we get a thrill from dreaming up with a new concept every year. Plus, they look ever so pretty positioned underneath the Christmas tree

But after spending 2019 becoming more environmentally conscious than ever before, we’re not feeling so good about the huge amounts of Christmas wrapping paper that is wasted and thrown in the bin every January. Thanks to the mix of materials used on some of the flashiest of wrapping, like metallic or glitter, many wrapping materials can’t be recycled and contribute to our climate crisis. 

If like us, you’d like your Christmas gift wrapping to be more eco-friendly, take stock of these environmentally conscious ideas. 

From ways you can recycle old wrapping paper to alternative techniques and products to use, we’ve put together some top tips for making your Christmas gift wrapping more eco-friendly. 

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Invest in an eco-friendly alternative 

Environmentally-minded brands have started catching on to the wasteful nature of gift wrap, and one that has created a particularly easy-to-use solution is Aspiga, with its set of three reusable bags. 

Each one is a different size, varying from a small bag that would fit a piece of jewellery in it to a larger bag that would work for an item of clothing. The bags themselves are made from scrap material from Aspiga’s factory, which gets an eco-friendly thumbs up from us, too. 

The set is priced at just £7, which is well worth it considering you’ll use them again and again. 

Start collecting old gift bags 

Do away with gift wrap altogether and pass your gifts on to their new owner in a recycled gift bag. This means less ripped-up paper that will likely never be used again, and you get to keep the element of surprise. The great thing is your gift bag will (hopefully) stay intact during the present opening, which means you can use it again and again. You could even go one step further and craft them yourself!

Swap real ribbons for drawn on versions 

If you’re suspicious that all of the ribbons and gift tags that you plan on lovingly buying and wrapping your Christmas gifts in, will likely be thrown in the bin after being opened, there’s a way to decorate your presents in a more sustainable way. 

Instead of accumulating more waste with present-toppers, why not whip out a Sharpie and simply scribble on a fun bow, ribbon or gift tag design instead? It’s more budget-friendly, too!

Forage for decorations 

Present trimmings gathered from nature not only look impressive, they’re easy to source too. If you’ve invested in a real Christmas tree, the easiest option is to take a few small cuttings from a selection of innocuous branches – spruce, pine and fir cuttings look best paired with simple brown paper and natural twine.

Even if you don’t have a real tree, alternative trimmings can be foraged from your garden or a local park – try holly leaves, pine cones, winterberries, a sprig from a pretty shrub, or even dried leaves.

Look in your kitchen cupboards

Pssst: another set of beautiful trimmings are hiding in your kitchen cupboard. Grab some sprigs of rosemary first: these not only look great but smell fantastic, too. Next up, dry some orange slices and pair these with a few cinnamon sticks – again, this is fragrant wrapping at its best

You could even swap out the gift tags for gingerbread alternatives: before baking, use a drinking straw to cut out a hole which will allow the tags to be strung onto gifts, and once they’re finished either leave them plain or label with writing icing.

Aim for zero waste

If you’re left with a small section at the end of a roll of wrapping paper, don’t throw it out. Instead, layer your scraps – either by looping one small section on top of another, or by creating a half-and-half effect. This is a simple trick but it instantly upgrades your wrapping game. 

It also means you won’t waste any paper – a problem which can be especially frustrating if you have spent hard-earned cash on a beautiful roll of paper (or accidentally cut a piece that’s too small).

Reuse and recycle

There should be no shame in collecting old wrapping supplies and reusing them later on – especially if you’ve been the recipient of carefully wrapped gifts complete with real ribbon and expensive paper. 

Look out for embellishments that you might collect in everyday life, too – for example, luxury shopping purchases sometimes come wrapped in scented tissue paper and ribbon. If you’re feeling especially resourceful, you could use pages from newspapers or magazines as wrapping paper, and even plain brown paper bags can be reused in place of a roll of gift wrap.

Use eco-friendly supplies

If you really want to cut down on waste, consider using fabric gift bags instead of paper. If you’re up for a bit of sewing, drawstring pouches are easy to make and can be reused by the person receiving your gift – either again as a gift bag, or for travel and storage. 

Alternatively you could try Furoshiki, a Japanese wrapping tradition using fabric cloths that are made to be reused – just include a note with the gift with instructions on how to reuse the cloths. If you do opt for paper wrapping, choose recycled and recyclable options over anything else (for example, glitter and foil covered cards and wrapping paper are said to be non-recyclable, as they can clog recycling machinery).

Ditch gift wrap for old newspapers 

If you’re the kind of person who already gets a newspaper delivered daily, or even weekly, you could hold on to a few and use them for giftwrap instead. The monochrome print looks striking next to red ribbon or gold twine, and this means that you don’t have to make a last minute dash to the shops to fight your way through the Christmas crowds, too. 

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Main image: Tetiana Shadrina / Additional words: Helen Booth 


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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