The sustainable Christmas gift wrap guide

7 Nov 2019 3 min read

Last year I was more conscious than ever of the mounds of gift wrap, string and surplus-to-requirements-packaging hastily bunged into our bins on Christmas Day. And this time it wasn’t just the worry of “have we spoilt the kids (too much)” but a rising concern about where it – and we – would eventually end up.

So, this year I’ve been on a mission and if, like me, you’re looking to give plastic paper and glittery gift tags the heave ho (ho ho), but still want those gifts to look gorgeous, I’ve compiled some sustainable alternatives to help you on your way to a greener Christmas 2019.


Perfect paper

We use 363,000 miles of wrapping paper every Christmas (enough to go around the planet about nine times), and over 83km2 of this ends up in our bins.

Why not re-use old gift wrap (flattening out and removing any areas with sellotape stuck to it) and make gift tags by cutting up old birthday or Christmas cards.

If the paper you have is too tired for the job, you can easily check if it can be recycled by carrying out the ‘scrunch test’: If it stays in a ball shape, it should be recyclable.

And if you are buying new paper, avoid anything with metal, plastic or glitter, which renders it non-recyclable.

Get crafty

Bulk buy plain brown paper from your local Post Office and print patterns on it using stencils or shapes cut from thick card or a raw potato. Remember to use water-based paints to limit your impact on the environment and ensure the wrapping can be recycled after use.

Save all those odds and ends such as tissue paper and bits of ribbon to decorate, or use foraged things like pine cones and sprigs of foliage to add a post-wrapping finishing touch.

Vintage treasure

Scour your local flea market or junk shops for old prints or maps which could be repurposed as gift wrap, and vintage accessories which could be used to add some old school glamour and may be hung on the recipient’s tree.

Bags of ideas

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, consider running up some simple tote style bags, which your recipients can keep for much needed storage post-Christmas. Or if like me the last time you saw a sewing machine was in a Home Economics class c.1993, you could use this Japanese method of wrapping with fabric – no sewing skills required.

Sticking point

In the UK we will get through roughly 40 million rolls of sticky tape this year. For a more environmentally friendly alternative, why not switch to biodegradable paper-based tape? Brown paper-based tape is easy to come by, and could fit in with your brown paper or vintage themed look. I did come across white paper-based tape when looking online, but it doesn’t seem to be as widely available.

And Parcelforce can help you with

  • A streamlined parcel sending process and 15% off* when you join Rewards4U. Register and join Rewards4U online - it a few minutes and makes future parcel sending quicker, allows you to access your order history (no need to print invoices) and save 15% on all UK and selected International parcels.
  • A host of convenient drop off locations. With 11,500 Post Office branches, and 54 Parcelforce depots spread across the UK, there should be one close by, helping you to reduce the carbon footprint involved in the start of your parcel’s journey.
by Natalie Walker

*excludes globalvalue and globaleconomy

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