I don’t know about you, but the further along the eco-friendly road I go, the more I notice how many single-use items are … everywhere! Although we’ve been encouraged to make swaps to our coffee cups, straws, and water bottles there are still so many single-use plastic items that we can replace with eco-friendly options.
One of my real bugbears is the humungous amount of waste created through gifting. Over the last few years, seeing black bags filled with wrapping paper and sticky tape piled up ready to go straight to landfill has taken a lot of the joy out of gift-giving, particularly over Christmas. One reason for setting up Sarah Baumann Creations was to reclaim the joy, find eco-friendly solutions, and help educate others about their well-meaning, but environmentally harmful, gift habits.
The problem with wrapping paper is that for the most part it is designed to be single-use, and generally, the fibres used aren’t strong enough to be recycled. In addition to this, it is often dyed, laminated, and contains non-paper elements such as glitter. That doesn’t even take into account the sticky tape still usually attached. A scary statistic for you – the amount of wrapping paper thrown away at Christmas in the UK alone would stretch to the moon (gov.uk)
I think we can all agree that something needs to change here, so let’s look at some different options and easy swaps to help you on your zero waste journey.
1 // If you’re buying new, buy recycled
Although your average wrapping paper can’t be recycled there are many places where you can source recyclable options – my shop included! However, buying recycled paper doesn’t solve everything, as there is still a high production cost to creating new products. Each year, a forest the size of Wales is required to provide all the paper used in Britain (recyclingbins.co.uk) so look out for recycled paper that can be recycled too.
2 // keep it cute, just use less
It can often feel like the only eco-friendly options out there is lacking in … cuteness … but there are better swaps out there that aren’t just 100% kraft paper. Why not try using recycled kraft paper as your main wrapping to protect your packages, and then use cute designs as an accent. This method also has the advantage of giving you chance to use up odd bits of wrapping paper from gifts you’ve received too!
3 // ditch the sticky tape but stay secure
There are so many different options now that you can get away with leaving the plastic sticky tape behind. Using paper tape will still keep your presents secure, and more and more companies are producing gorgeous designs on their rolls. I use PackPlan who have a fantastic range of colours and designs. If you’re feeling confident then try out this Japanese wrapping method that requires no tape at all!
4 // spread the message or the job’s half done
An issue with gift-giving is that at times like Christmas you may not be there to let your gift recipient know about its eco-credentials. Don’t let your hard work go to waste when they throw your paper into the bin rather than recycling it. All my gift wrap orders come with ‘Recycle Me’ stickers so you can be sure the message gets through. This cute design I provide is by Jeff and the Squirrel.
5 // change up the fabric or use it again
If you’re using high-quality wrapping paper then you will be able to re-use it if you’re careful. To get out the creases so it’s fresh and ready to go follow these steps:
- Place the paper you want to flatten under a towel.
- Set your iron to low heat.
- Press the iron into the towel using a circular motion.
- After a minute, check the paper.
Finally, you can steer away from paper altogether and opt for Furoshiki a Japanese cloth folding technique.
So many options, and all of them easy to put in place. Let me know in the comments what swaps you’re going to make this year.