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  • Writer's pictureSustainable Overton

Sustainable wrapping ideas

Sustainable Overton volunteer Lois shares some ideas for a sustainable Christmas!

With frostier mornings closing in and December fast approaching, many of us will be thinking about Christmas, which is now one month away! Shops are filled with festive decorations and mince pies are (excitingly) readily available in supermarkets, and Christmas present shopping may well have begun for many. In this blog post we are going to be looking into how you can wrap greener this year. We know that not everyone celebrates Christmas, so please feel free to apply these ideas to your gift wrapping for any occasion.


1. Recyclable, recycled and compostable wrap. This may come as a surprise to some: a lot of wrapping paper can’t be recycled. This means that each year we are creating a lot of wrapping waste to go to landfill - 227,000 miles of it, in fact, therefore it would be a great idea to look into wrap that can be recycled. There are lots of options online or in stores, like Next, John Lewis, Clintons and Marks & Spencer, and those include wrap that can be recycled, as well as those that are already made of recycled materials or can be put in the compost bin. And don’t forget those tags and toppers!

2. Use kraft paper. Plain, brown kraft paper is readily available and often a cheaper alternative - though make sure that the one you pick up can be recycled. This is a great option for those who love arts and crafts as this paper can be dressed up beautifully for the festive period or for any occasion - read our tips below on tags and toppers for some ideas on how to instate yourself as the best present wrapper in town! Though a lot of kraft paper is plain, there are more varieties with decoration on them, so if ribbons and bows aren’t your thing, you could look into a more decorative paper.

3. Reuse newspaper. For an interesting, busy, and less-festive look - perfect for any time of year and for anyone - why not utilise leftover newspaper lying around the house? This is a great way to reuse paper we already have, saving money, and newspapers can also be recycled easily. You’ll want to check what articles will be on the present, and could even have fun with this and tailor the newspaper to the person receiving your gift.

4. Tote and reusable bags. Gift bags are a brilliant way to quickly and easily wrap a gift and make it look lovely, but they are often expensive and go to waste after. We can use any paper bags in the house as gift bags and can easily decorate or personalise them with pens or paint to add a personal touch. You could also use a tote or drawstring bag, which would be a lovely extra gift and will save them on plastic bags next time they go shopping - two birds with one stone!


1. Recyclable tags. Like kraft paper, lots of tags are available that can be recycled, so switch out unsustainable versions for these. Buying plain, brown tags will allow you to decorate them yourself with a pen which is more personal whilst allowing you to ensure your wrap avoids the landfill - result!

2. Reuse paper. Tags are easy to make at home using paper we already have - simply cut a tag shape (or a more unique one if you are feeling artsy) and decorate as you wish, or leave it plain. We can use any paper we have for this, including the wrap used for the present itself, which will keep your gifts looking very cohesive.

3. Just use a pen. We don’t need a tag at all - we can just write the name of the person on the gift. This saves on money and avoids more paper being used. As above, you can decorate as you wish and may even have more room to do so, just ensure that what you use won’t bleed through the paper and onto the gift itself.

Toppers and extra flourishes

1. Recyclable alternatives. Many people love to top their presents off with ribbons, bows, and other flourishes, but a lot of these aren’t recyclable. Look out for twine and sustainable ribbons options that can add a pop of colour to your gift or give it a more rustic feel.

2. Go foraging. It’s no surprise that looking to the outdoors for gift wrapping has become more popular as this adds something really unique and pretty to presents, and there are plenty of options. For Christmas gifts you could use pine twigs, pine cones, holly leaves, and even dried orange slices to give you gifts a festive feel, however you can use leaves and flowers from any time of year to make your presents beautiful. It is important, however, to keep in mind allergies as well the safety of pets and yourselves as plants can cause injuries, especially when prickly.

3. Get crafty. If you love arts and crafts, why not use materials you have at home to stick onto your gifts and make them stand out? You can use paper and card to cut out festive shapes, like snowflakes or snowmen, and this idea can be equally as useful at other times of year or for those who don’t celebrate Christmas as it can be applied to any shape. Have fun with it and let your imagination run wild!

4. Don’t add anything at all. Ultimately, when we have chosen a gift for someone, it’s the thought behind it that counts, and no one will mind what wrap it comes in. It can be fun to add extra flourishes for those who like to craft, but if you don’t, avoid creating non-recyclable waste by leaving your gifts plain and simple - they’ll be hugely appreciated either way!

Do you have any sustainable tricks and tips for green wrapping? Let us know!


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