Gold scissors and string on the floor, with a present wrapped in brown paper and topped with string and a pine leaf. Surrounded by wooden house decorations.

Sustainable Christmas wrapping ideas

What do you wrap your Christmas pressies with? Gift wrap, we thought so...

Wrapping paper makes presents look fancy and, most importantly, conceals what they are (unless it’s a bottle of something). But did you know it’s not particularly great for the planet?

The real impact of using wrapping paper

On average, it takes six mature trees to make a single tonne of paper. This means approximately 50,000 trees are used to make the 8,250 tonnes that are used at Christmas.1 What’s more, Defra estimates that more than 80 square kilometres of wrapping paper ends up in the bin. And we use so much of the stuff; it’s believed to be enough to gift-wrap the entire island of Guernsey.2 Foil, glittery bits and even bits of plastic can be found in wrapping paper, which means it’s not easy to recycle. It’s often dyed too, covered in plastic sticky tape and is extremely thin, so has very little recycling value.3

Short-term joy, long-term impact


As a result, what has a limited enjoyment factor can have a long-lasting damage on the environment due to the fact it’s made from multiple trees and can’t be recycled. But you, we, can help change all that.

How? By switching to using recyclable gift wrap.

Here are some tips to help you go down the sustainable Christmas wrapping route:


Tip 1. Check the labels

Just because something may look recyclable, doesn’t necessarily mean it is. However, the good news is that it is possible to pick up eco-friendly Christmas wrapping paper, you just need to know what to look out for. Swerve wrap that features a foil design, glitter decoration and a laminated finish and choose paper that’s been made from 100% recycled materials, is bleach-free and has been printed with vegetable dyes.4

Tip 2. Reuse your old newspapers

Who said old newspapers were only good enough for fish and chip wrappers, lining cat litter trays and cleaning your windows? They can actually make really eye-catching gift wrap, especially if you pair them with a festive red ribbon or a sprig of holly or red berries.5

Tip 3. Draw your own ribbons

Ribbons are great for giving presents that finishing touch, but who said that they had to be big and fancy affairs? Hand-drawing your ribbons on to presents (especially those that have been wrapped with plain parcel paper) look extremely effective and give your gift that personal touch. Not convinced? Grab a black or coloured thick felt pen and give it a go, you’ll be pleasantly surprised…6

Tip 4. Turn toilet roll tubes into gift boxes


Yes, you’ve read right. It is possible. You know all of those toilet rolls you get through every year? Well if you were to store all of the leftover tubes, you’ve be left with a fabulous mountain of cardboard tubes that you can turn into little pillow-shaped gift boxes. Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Flatten the tube lightly with the palm of your hand. Don’t squish it too much, as you still want it to have a pillow shape.

Step 2: Use a craft knife to score a narrow semi-circle/moon shape at either end of the tube. Don’t cut through the card, you just want to make enough of an indent so that you can fold the moon shapes inwards to create the two ends for your box.

Step 3: Pop your present inside, be it earrings, a necklace or some other lovely treasure, and decorate it with twine, string, a hand-drawn bow or a sprig of something festive.7

Tip 5. Create gift bags from your old cereal boxes

Who’d have thought your empty cereal boxes could be given a new lease of life, hey?! Simply cut off the top tabs and paint or cover the outside with old newspapers, books or any other lining of your choice. Next, create a set of holes near the opening so that you can thread some old string, twine or ribbon through. Ta-dah! And you’re done!8 If you’re quite liking the homemade, make-it-yourself vibe, then why not check out this article on ‘How to have a homemade Christmas.’

Last Updated: 5th October 2020

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