Hello and welcome to the second instalment of my sustainable/ethical Christmas posts! I’m very much a festive person, and since the first autumn leaf hit the ground I’ve been excited about putting my tree up. Which you may have already guessed from the scheduling of my Christmas content. Yes, I’m that guy.
But y’know what I don’t love about the holiday season? The increase in our societies’ consumerist nature. Oh, and the plastic waste.
From Christmas crackers to pointless stocking fillers, it really isn’t the easiest time to be #plasticfree. Especially when non-sustainably minded friends and family members are buying you gifts. No shade intended – that’s just the way things go sometimes.
But like most things in life, there’s a way around it. Wrapping paper is one of the main ways you can reduce your plastic use this holiday season, and I’m going to show you how.
Short answer – no. Most wrapping papers contain plastic coating, like a lamination. Which equals plastic, which equals “Probably not going to get recycled. Ever.” Only 9% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled.
Then you’ve got the issue of wrapping paper with glitter. Which, let’s face it, is probably also made using plastic. The same applies to papers with a shiny metallic effect.
But the problems don’t stop there… what about the Sellotape? Most people don’t separate their paper from their Sellotape after they’re done unwrapping their gifts, which mean it most likely won’t be recycled.
The easy, non-creative option would just be to recommend a recycled wrapping paper and biodegradable paper tape. But there’s a whole world of options out there, for those who want to try something different. If standard paper and tape is your go-to, head on over to Peace With The Wild. They have a entire section on their website dedicated to sustainable gift wrap.
1 // Fabric wraps. Just about everyone has seen the cute little scarf wrapped gift sets in Lush, right? Not only is it zero waste, it’s two gifts in one. The most popular seem to be scarf wraps, but I’ve also seen people using tea towels or clothing cut-offs. Cute, easy, affordable, creative. It ticks all the boxes.
2 // Gift baskets. Okay so this might not seem ~revolutionary~, but it’s a good idea. Trust me. Three or four years ago I began making gift baskets for my parents and every year since I’ve re-used the same baskets. Not only have I completely avoided hours of wrapping paper related struggles, I’ve avoided plastic too. Plus the baskets can be repurposed in countless ways.
3 // Paper bags. This is one for the lighter spectrum of gifts. The ones that can be neatly slotted into a folded paper receptacle without ripping it in half. It’s a great way to practice some origami. Alternatively, you could secure it with some tape (preferably the biodegradable kind).
4 // Cups. Paper, ceramic, plastic, or otherwise. The choice is yours. “But aren’t single-use cups bad?” Well, yes. But if you just so happen to acquire one, wash it out and give it a new lease of life! This would work particularly well for those hot chocolate making kits you see all over Pinterest. Y’know the ones where you layer the chocolate powder and marshmallows? Yeah, those.
5 // Boxes. Ah yes, the good old-fashioned box. Reliable and efficient. Be it an old shoe box, or even a cereal box. Decorate it any way you please and gift away! The best bit? They can be used again and again. It’s a win-win.
Let me know which alternatives you’ll be trying out this year! I read all my comments and reply to every single one. I’m hoping to update you all on how my sustainable gift wrapping goes, so watch this space.
I'm Elen Mai, the brains behind Welsh Wanderer and 20-something human biology student from (you guessed it) Wales! Welsh Wanderer is designed with the eco-conscious adventurer in mind. So stick around for tips & tricks on living sustainably.