zero waste Christmas – wrapping paper

Filed in Blog by on December 8, 2008 16 Comments
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zero waste wrapping paperWe’ve been talking about some zero waste ideas for Christmas over the past couple of weeks. We’ve talked about crackers and advent calendars so far. This weekend I was thinking about the huge amount of wrapping paper we use.

According to waste online, we use enough paper in the UK during the Christmas season to cover an area the size of Guernsey.
Stop and think about that for a moment………

Some local authorities will collect wrapping paper in the kerbside collection boxes. Others will ask for it to be recycled with the cardboard recycling banks. Other authorities won’t take it at all because of dyes, laminates or sticky tape which result in a poor quality batch of paper recycling. You’ll need to check with your individual authority to see how to dispose of yours.

For your own presents that come wrapped in traditional paper, why not savour the moment by opening the gift carefully and putting aside the paper to use next year! Once thought to be mean and tight fisted, now it’s the frugal and eco savvy choice!

For personalized gifts that you are giving to others, there are many ways to wrap them without creating waste.

I know we have some wonderfully creative readers and I’d love you to add your suggestions in the comments below. Deb has already introduced us to the delights of the Japanese art of furoshiki. (Using fabric to you and me)

In the past I’ve used newspaper for wrapping presents; this can look amazing, especially if you can find a picture that represents something to do with the gift or the recipient.

If you still want to retain the traditional look, then at least buy recycled wrapping paper. Natural Collection have a good selection and all their Christmas goodies are reduced at the moment.

Making the wrapping part of the gift is another idea – choose a reusable bag, scarf or tin.

What about you; how will you be wrapping your gifts this year?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (16)

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  1. My family will definitely be using reusable bags. We have a bunch made from cloth with Christmas prints on them that we keep folded up with the decorations the rest of the year. Most people reuse old cards as gift tags or make their own out of scrap paper.

    For gifts that are going out of the family (ie I wouldn’t get my cloth bag back, I use old maps. I have loads of huge maps with aerial photo backgrounds from my old job. They were going to recycle them, but I thought they could be used one more time since they make great, interesting wrapping paper.

  2. emmer says:

    we give only a few holiday cards. we have substituted e-cards for some and treats for the neighbors. for those cards we do send, we do not use envelopes, just tape or staple the letter/card shut and write the addy on the blank outside. we also recycle a few cards we have received by making the front into a postcard and sending it off to a friend the following year.
    our “greenies” group has a solstice party and brings a “white elephant” gift for an exchange. we tell the story of the article when it is chosen by someone. sometimes a person chooses a gift someone else has already chosen and that person must give it up and then choose another. some gifts reappear year after year. all of this adds some additional mirth to the party.
    our family finds tickets to a sporting event or a local theater performance to be a wonderful gift-no wrapping and one size femmer

  3. We use a mixture of fabric sacks, parcel paper and recycled (both old and fresh), as well as an unwrapped game of hide and seek. If you’re interested in seeing a video of Furoshiki in action, you can check it here….
    … and don’t worry, it’s not me that’s giving the demo 😀 x

  4. Deb from Boston says:

    Mrs. A. Thanks for posting the link to the furoshiki video – I’ve only ever seen the picture version. The video is much easier to figure out. I’ve recently found a local source for some inexpensive cloth drawstring bags (less then 50 cents US per bag) & since most of our gift giving is within our families, I’ll be using a lot of those.
    I also found small one for the children’s birthday goody bags (oh how I hate the platic trinkets that most families give, but the goody bags are expected so my upcoming little bears party’s will have a clothbag and one small toy vs. tons of plastic junk)

  5. indiebird says:

    I have said no xmas cards this year! I am not sending any and that is that. I have told friends and family this and most seem happy (to my face) but a) they are very expensive and b) they are a total waste of paper and printing ink etc. As for prezzies I am not sure yet…. because we live abroad, and the exchange rate for the pound against the euro is rubbish so buying stuff here is v. expensive for us when dh gets paid in sterling. I am already feeling a bit guilty about really wanted to go back to the UK for xmas and obviously flying. I have ordered a lot of prezzies online to be delivered to my grnadparent’s house for me to wrap on the 23rd of december! I was going to go and buy some rolls of brown paper to wrap these on the 23rd or if my nerve holds the 24th!! We have also drastically cut back on prezzies full stop. All my ds wants is a beano annual and my dd wants the world, basically, but they really want, or need, nothing specific, so we have gone for a couple of books each. This is very different for my family so not sure yet how I will feel on the day, but maybe we need to just do it and see how it feels for us…..

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Hey Jen, I love the ideas of the old maps. How fabulous. Only this week I put some in the recycling, so I might dig them out and reuse them. The idea of reusable bags is great too 🙂

    Emmer, I love the sound of your ‘greenies’ party and the gift swapping; I bet you have some good laughs over all of that! I think ‘experience’ gifts are a great idea 🙂

    Hi Mrs A; it sounds like you have Christmas all wrapped up **groan** (I couldn’t resist 😀 ) Thanks for the link; it looks SO easy. Hmmmmmmm.

    Hi Deb; it sounds like you are well organised too with your cloth bags – what a great find!

    Indiebird, I think your plans sound great and I’d love to hear how it turns out for you. We’re lucky in the dd doesn’t ask for much; she’s very sweet with her consideration for others. Enjoy yourselves and do tell us all about your simplified Christmas and the bits that really worked for you 🙂

  7. dee dee says:

    Some other options for wrapping presents without resorting to commercial wrap:
    old blueprints
    wallpaper remnants & samples
    fold-out travel and tourist brochures
    test pages from the color printer
    use yarn, twine or string if you don’t have a stash of recycled ribbons.
    add pinecones, holly springs, dried sliced oranges & lemons and acorns as decorations.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hello Dee Dee, welcome to the site and thank you for adding your lovely suggestions. I love the idea of using holly and dried fruits as part of the wrap. Very seasonal and gorgeous 🙂

  9. Congratulations on a wonderful website! As well as for all the other features I’ve enjoyed, thank you for letting me know that I’m not the only person to save Christmas (and birthday) wrapping paper to use next time round.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    Thank you Maggie and welcome to the site. I love your gravatar! You are most definitely not alone with salvaging wrapping paper; although friends still think I am strange…..

  11. I’m glad you like the black cat. I’ve got two of them, ex-feral, and they certainly help to make sure that food doesn’t go to waste!

  12. Mrs Green says:

    Hi again Maggie – we had two black farm cats! Semi wild, but soon very domesticated! It doesn’t take them long once a comfy house and warm cuddle awaits them.
    What sort of food waste do your cats help you with? I’d love to hear more on this. In fact, Mr Green just suggested that a problem to people’s food waste was a dog. Having had a German Shepherd I think I agree LOL!

  13. I’m a strict vegetarian, so the cats turn their noses up at anything I leave. Fortunately for them, my husband and sons are dedicated carnivores* and Tom and Tab do very nicely out of trimmings from the roast etc. My younger son is very fond of tuna, but always makes sure there’s some left for the cats. He has to, because they sit shoulder to shoulder and fix him with a beady stare while he’s eating. If he takes too long over it, it’s not unknown for Tom to stick his claws into the fleshy part of David’s leg by way of encouragement.

    *There’s an article on my website in which I mention that Richard, my older son, would rather fight the Trojan War than eat a Greek salad. Eating out together in Paris posed quite a problem when the two of us were over there together.

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Maggie Cobbett: Ahhh, my cat hangs around me when I eat yogurt or anything with butter on. So even though I’m veggie, she still gets treats! Tuna makes our cat sick 🙁
    I’ll take a look at the article later – thanks! And your cat sounds very polite; ours has helped herself from the plate on many occasions……

  15. I’ve just written a blog post on ways to green up your Christmas wrapping. When you think about it, imaginative wrapping is so much more fun than usual gift wrap! Do have a read if you get a mo, thanks.

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @the green gal: Hi Green gal, your post is fab with lots of creative ideas – thank you for sharing! and happy creating 🙂

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