Zero Waste Gift Wrapping: Your Complete Guide
Ditch wasteful single-use wrapping paper this Christmas. Check out pebble's complete guide to zero waste gift wrapping.
Ah, Christmas. The most magical time of the year, but also the most wasteful.
On top of food waste and unwanted gifts, one of the biggest waste culprits is wrapping paper.
Luckily for you, there are plenty of ways to beautifully wrap Christmas gifts without all the waste using repurposed, biodegradable and reusable materials.
If you’re keen to cut down on Christmas waste this year, here’s pebble’s guide to zero waste wrapping paper.
What’s the problem with wrapping paper?
According to a report, people in the UK use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year and over 83km2 of this will end up in our bins.
A lot of wrapping paper is designed for one time use. It can also contain
- Non-paper additives such as gold and silver colouring, metals and plastics
This means it can’t be recycled and it ends up being sent to landfill or incinerated.
And what about the kind that can be recycled?
Paper is still a finite resource.
According to Wrag Wrap, on average it takes six mature trees to make a tonne of paper.
Research by DEFRA found that around 50,000 trees are cut down each year to make enough paper to wrap our presents.
Zero waste wrapping paper tips
Natasja from The Fabric Wrapping Co. shares some of her top environmentally friendly Christmas wrapping ideas:
- Skip glitter or foil wrap as they cannot be recycled. Use the scrunch test - if you can scrunch the paper, it’s likely you can recycle it.
- Get creative and reuse newspaper and magazines as gift wrap. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, science shows that if you know someone well - they will like slightly wonkily wrapped presents just as much!
- Use reusable gift wrapping. Borrowing from history and years of tradition in Japan (Furoshiki) and Korea (Bojagi), wrapping in fabric is a special experience, both to give and receive. And then your wrap can be reused with friends and family for years and years to come, all with no waste.
7 Ways To Do Zero Waste Gift Wrapping This Christmas
1. Furoshiki wrapping
Furoshiki is the traditional Japanese art of wrapping packages in fabric. The name refers to both the method and the square cloth used.
This method was first used to protect valuable goods in transit. It’s now evolved to become a popular practice around the world to transport bottles, food, home decor and other items.
Furoshiki has also become a popular and zero waste way to wrap gifts.
All you need is the cloth itself and you can reuse it as many times as you want.
Here's a video of how to do basic Furoshiki wrapping.
Once you learn a few basic techniques, you can experiment with a range of fabrics.
There are two amazing fabric gift wrap brands to get started with:
FabRap™ creates exclusively designed and contemporary, reusable fabric gift wrapping inspired by Indian textiles and the traditional Japanese Furoshiki.
All cloth gift wraps are ethically made from premium quality 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. They’re 100% reusable and biodegradable.
Choose from a range of single and double sided prints starting from €8.99 here.
The Fabric Wrapping Co
The Fabric Wrapping Co.’s wraps are inspired by the Japanese tradition of Furoshiki, with a modern twist.
Each luxury fabric wrap is handmade in London using Certified Organic Cotton.
Soft to touch and eco-friendly, they can be reused with friends and family for years to come.
Another thing is they’re very easy to use and tiny to store unlike those dodgy rolls of wrapping paper. Prices start from £9 per wrap.
Styles are Scandi-style minimalist or bold maximalist. Dress up any styles with plant cuttings, reused ribbons or whatever wrapping decoration takes your fancy.
Check out The Fabric Wrapping Co. here.
2. Make your own wrapping paper
Do you love colourful wrapping paper but hate waste?
A fantastic addition to a Christmas crafting session with friends and family, this alternative gift wrapping idea encourages you to unleash your creative side.
The method involves recycled parcel paper, homemade potato stamps and a selection of brightly coloured vegetable ink.
Find out how to do it here.
3. Use newspaper to wrap gifts
Here’s an easy one. Turn old newspapers lying around the house into quick and affordable wrapping paper.
In the months leading up to Christmas, scan through and save pages you like the look of to use for later. The cartoons and puzzles sections are particularly great for this.
Then all you need to do is use it exactly as you would normally use wrapping paper.
Work out the size you need, cut it and then wrap it.
You can find the full tutorial on how to make newspaper wrapping here.
For extra zero waste wrapping points, ditch sellotape for twine or ribbons instead.
You don’t have to stick to newspapers either. Get creative with old sheet music and magazines for smaller gifts.
Outdated maps could also be used. Another win for budget-friendly and sustainable wrapping!
4. Go for wrapping paper that gives back
Prefer to stay traditional for wrapping paper?
Choose wrapping paper that’s sustainably made, free of plastic, carbon neutral and gives back to a good cause.
These are the reasons why pebble loves Storigraphic.
The brand donates a percentage of sales profits to the homeless charity, Crisis UK.
Plus all of its plastic free gift wrap is exclusively designed by them and sustainably made in the UK using 120gsm FSC certified paper.
It’s also 100% recyclable, contains no glitter, foil or metallic ink and comes cut in sheets rather than rolls.
Each sheet of wrapping paper is thick enough to be reusable, making it another win for no waste wrapping.
The funky astronaut wrapping paper for £3.50 is a great choice for kids and it has a gift tag included. Check it out here.
5. Use eco-friendly kraft paper
Keep it simple this Christmas with elegantly wrapped gifts using kraft paper.
Add splashes of festive colour with ribbons, dyed twine and name tags made from old Christmas cards.
Astris & Green makes it super simple with its selection of Gift Wrap Kits.
Each set contains kraft paper, raffia ribbon, dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks and paper tape with a guide to help you assemble it.
You can choose from a selection of rectangle or star shaped kraft tags to match. All kits are plastic free, compostable or recyclable. Prices start from £14.50.
Natural embellishments such as holly, red berries and pine branches stand out beautifully against the neutral brown shade of the paper.
Why not add a sprig of lavender or rosemary for a gift wrap that smells good too?
Check out Astris & Green’s Gift Wrap Kits here.
Looking for more gift wrap inspiration?
Here are some gorgeous gift wrapping ideas to get you in the festive spirit.
6. Use an old shirt
Old shirts and garments make simple wrapping paper alternatives.
Have a dig through your wardrobe for any worn out clothes or head to the charity shop and look for shirts with interesting patterns.
Since this method is DIY Furoshiki, make sure that when you cut the fabric it’s in the shape of a square. You’ll find it much easier to wrap the gifts.
You could even make your gift wrapping more unique by keeping sleeves attached to the shirt and using them as ties.
Another option is to cut off the sleeves and use them to wrap up gifts like wine bottles.
See the full tutorial on how to do this here.
7. Tackle plastic waste
Instead of wrapping paper that contributes to plastic waste, make it part of the solution with gift wrap made from recycled plastic bottles.
That’s exactly what Wrag Wrap has done.
Inspired by Furoshiki fabric wrap, the brand has created a reusable gift wrapping material made from 100% recycled polyester known as Repreve®.
Thanks to Wrag Wrap, recycled plastic bottles are given a new lease of life in striking gift wrap that can be used again and again.
Plus, recycling one ton of PET containers saves 5.7 square metres of landfill space.
Choose from a colourful range of reversible eco-friendly prints complete with a button and cord to make gift wrapping a breeze.
And the best bit? It comes with an inner crackle just like standard wrapping paper. Made from 100% biodegradable cellulose, it adds a little drama to unwrapping.
Prices start from £12.00. Check them out here.
Bonus zero waste wrapping tips
Check out these extra ways to make your Christmas gift wrapping more eco-friendly.
Say no to sellotape
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually need to use sellotape to wrap gifts. String or ribbons work just as well.
Simply fold the paper how you would normally and use the string to keep it fastened. Easy.
Alternatively, you can use plastic free and biodegradable paper tape.
The problem with sellotape or sticky tape is that it’s made from a type of plastic called polypropylene so it’s not recyclable. In fact, most of it ends up in landfill.
Using sticky tape on your eco-friendly wrapping paper would make it non-recyclable and it would most likely end up being sent to landfill too.
On top of that, approximately 6 million rolls of sticky tape are sold in the UK in the months leading up to Christmas.
That amount of tape could be wrapped around the world 499 times. Now that’s a lot of waste!
Add zero waste embellishments
Ditch plastic bows in favour of pretty natural gift wrapping decorations instead.
You can go out and forage for sprigs of holly, berries, cedar and pine branches and pine cones. Or simply use rosemary, flowers and cuttings from your garden.
Other favourites include dried orange slices and simple sprigs of lavender and rosemary for a delicious smelling gift.
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