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by Craig Pryce December 18, 2020

The festive season is upon us and with it comes the tradition of Christmas gift-giving.

Since the invention of wrapping paper, people around the globe have been disguising their gifts with it and, therefore, making them a surprise for the recipient.

These wrapped gifts are then either placed under the Christmas tree or inside a stocking, ready for gift-giving on Christmas morning.

Based on studies, it seems that people prefer receiving a wrapped gift to an unwrapped one.

However, wrapping paper has a large environmental impact, which we’ll take a look at in this article.

Why is wrapping paper problematic?

Wrapping paper is a large problem for several reasons:

  • 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away each year.
  • In the UK alone, it’s been estimated by WRAP that the amount of wrapping paper the country throws out at Christmas would stretch to the moon.
  • Each year, a forest the size of Wales is required to provide all the paper used in Britain.
  • As the above statistics show, wrapping paper is hugely popular and incredibly wasteful.
  • Wrapping paper is a single-use item and is therefore used once and either sent to landfill or for recycling.
  • Some gift wrap isn’t recyclable due to foil or glitter, meaning that it either heads straight to landfill or gets mistakenly placed in the recycling bin where it can spoil entire loads of recycling.
  • Wrapping paper is often made from virgin paper, which is produced from logged trees in forests; the environmental impact of forestry is well-documented.
  • Wrapping paper is usually sealed with sticky tape, which is not recyclable. Also, if the tape is left on the wrap when it’s sent for recycling this can again cause issues at the recycling plant.
  • Wrapping paper isn’t necessary — gifts can be successfully given without it.

So, how can you make a difference to the alarming wrapping paper statistics this Christmas? Read on to find out.

Wrapped Christmas gifts underneath a Christmas tree

How to make a difference this Christmas

If you still wish to use wrapping paper, then you can consider the following points:

  • Make sure the wrapping paper you buy is fully recyclable — if it is foiled or features glitter, then it isn’t.
  • Buy recycled wrapping paper, so you’re reducing the impact on the environment.
  • Do the scrunch test with the paper you receive on your gifts; if you scrunch it and it stays scrunched up, it can be recycled. If it doesn’t stay scrunched up, then it needs to be placed in your general waste bin, unfortunately.
  • Remove all sticky tape and gift tags from wrapping paper before you place it in your recycling bin.

If you’d like to move away from using wrapping paper altogether, then you could try one of the following options:

  • Reuse gift bags from last year — close them at the top to stop anyone from peeking. You can then reuse them next year, too.
  • Try a fabric wrap using the Japanese art of furoshiki. For this, you can purchase purpose-made wraps that you reuse every year, or you can use what you already have — a fabric remnant, an old tea-towel, or a scarf perhaps.
  • Use a large, clean, crisp packet, turned inside out — this creates a gorgeous metallic wrap and gives the crisp packet another lease of life.
  • Sew up some fabric bags for use at Christmas and birthdays throughout the year.
  • Reuse scrap paper, magazines and newspapers to create unique gift wrap.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a new year full of positivity and happiness.

Craig Pryce

Craig Pryce

With over 17 years of experience in the waste and recycling industry, Craig is passionate about making recycling easier and reducing the negative impact of litter. He has been the managing director of Wheelie Bin Solutions (WBS) since January 2016, and prides the company on his expert knowledge, top-quality products, and customer service. His proudest moment was when WBS supported the 2012 Olympic Games, working in partnership with Contenur UK to supply over 9000 bin containers to all Olympic venues. Craig is always keen to share his knowledge, so whether you need advice about the benefits of a wheelie bin lock, or ideas for alternative uses for your wheelie bin, Craig will ensure your recycling and waste disposal habits are gold medal worthy.