Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is not always such a happy time for the planet.
Ireland is expected to generate 95,000 tonnes of packaging waste this Christmas, while in the UK alone around 30% more waste, or around three million tonnes, is produced and thrown away throughout the season. holidays compared to the rest of the year. .
One of the biggest impacts of the holiday season on the planet is the purchase of excessive amounts of single-use gift wrap, which has significant implications for both the environment and household budgets. .
Reasons to avoid using traditional wrapping paper
The wrapping paper you find in supermarkets and card stores is made from low-quality fibers that are dyed, coated with plastic, and decorated with glitter (also plastic) that make it nearly impossible to recycle.
It’s important to note that wrapping paper can only be recycled if it passes the crumple test – just crumple (crumple) the paper into a ball in your hand. If it stays in a ball, throw it in the recycling box. But if it loses its shape, that means it must be sent to the landfill.
Simple paper packaging can be recycled, but aluminum foil or paper decorated with glitter cannot and should be disposed of in general waste.
Most glitter is made from etched aluminum attached to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a type of microplastic that can contaminate water, soil, and air. Its increased presence in all three may pose a threat to human health and ecosystems, according to Scientific American.
It is also important to remember that duct tape is not recyclable. This makes him a huge culprit when it comes to plastic waste related to gift wrapping. Because it cannot be recycled, each piece of duct tape must be completely removed from the discarded wrapping paper.
Plastic bows can also be a popular choice for gift givers looking to add an extra touch to their gift, but they’re not an eco-friendly option. Like all kinds of plastics, they don’t biodegrade but break down into microplastics.
For those looking to make this year’s Christmas more sustainable, why not try some of these unique and eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas.
Brown kraft paper
Brown kraft paper is a great substitute for traditional gift wrapping paper because it is biodegradable and can be widely recycled. Not only is it good for the planet, but it is also always beautiful, with a minimum of effort.
You can give the wrapper a more festive look by adding a silky – and reusable – red ribbon, a holly branch, or a decoration made from twigs and balls.
For small gifts, place them in a natural brown kraft paper bag for easier wrapping. You can also use vegetable dyes to stamp your own festive design on the plain paper.
If you want to reduce your Christmas waste even further, the inner cardboard tube this paper wraps around can be reused to store or send posters, paintings and more.
Newspapers / magazines
Newspapers and magazines can make unique organic gift wrap and are a great opportunity to keep recycling.
Even if you don’t pick up a newspaper often, you can still find free newspaper by asking friends and neighbors for extras or even heading to your local cafe to buy some old ones.
Newsprint is both recyclable and biodegradable, making it more affordable and sustainable than conventional wrapping paper. And by reusing before you recycle, you take the load off the recycling industry.
Gifts wrapped in newsprint look chic and minimal, and each one keeps another sheet of wrapping paper from going to the landfill. Once you’ve wrapped your gift, you can even add a little festive touch – try a few sprigs of rosemary, holly, or eucalyptus.
Boxes and boxes
As many of us opt for shopping online rather than taking trips down Main Street to get this year’s Christmas presents, there’s a good chance you have a stash of boxes waiting to be recycled. .
This year, instead of throwing them away, you can color them with paint, dress them up with fabric ribbons, or even go a step further and decorate them with personal photos of you and the recipient.
If you want to get more creative, you can use old cereal boxes and shoe boxes and nest them into each other so that the recipient has to keep unwrapping until they get to the gift. .
Also, if you have old cookie tins or tea tins lying around, they can easily be turned into gift boxes without needing to go out and buy anything more, although you may need to add a few layers of tissues, shredded paper or parchment. .
Want to add a shiny look to your gift? Why not use recycled bags of crisps? All you need to do is carefully open the crispy bag in a flat sheet and wash it with dish soap to remove any remaining crumbs and grease.
Once it’s dry, you then wrap your gift, letting the shiny silver side show on the outside.
As part of new home recycling measures introduced in September, soft plastics such as crispy bags can be put in your home recycling bin, meaning your gift wrap won’t clog the landfill once you get it. it will be unpacked.
Furoshiki is a piece of fabric or square fabric that is environmentally friendly and primarily used for gift wrapping and carrying items, fashion, and home decor.
The custom of using the furoshiki originated in Japan around 710 BC during the Nara period, and the gift-wrapping phenomenon has taken the Western world by storm in recent years.
All you need is the fabric itself and you can reuse it as many times as you want.
You can use the furoshiki to wrap just about anything. They are beautiful around a bottle of wine, candles and even the strangest objects.
The fabric can be any pattern or color, but must be square (equal measurements on all sides) and large enough to completely cover the object. You can get creative with the fabric you use; whether it’s vintage scarves, bandanas, tablecloths, old clothes or scraps of fabric.
Glass jars are another great zero waste gift wrapping idea. Smaller jars can be used for gift giving, while the larger ones can hold food related gifts, such as chocolate or candy, while also making amazing candle holders.
You can reuse any jars you already have, just tie string or ribbons around the top to decorate and it only costs you the ingredients to craft. If you don’t have glass jars at home, chances are you’ll find some at your local charity store.
To top it off, when you use glass jars to gift, you are also giving the recipient a reusable container they can use to fill whatever they want.
Pages of old books
If you have a gift for an avid book reader in your life, why not take pages from an old book you have around the house and turn it into smart and unique gift wrap?
The material works great as a gift wrap because it won’t tear easily and you can use the pages with your favorite quotes to show your loved one how much they mean to you.