The best way we can save trees and the environment when it comes to gift giving is to not use wrapping paper and opt for reusable alternatives like natural organic fabrics, bags, baskets, boxes etc. Realistically, no matter which way you choose to unveil your gift it will never live up to the pleasurable experience of ripping open a paper wrapped present, especially when it comes to children. Can you honestly imagine a young child sitting there patiently and carefully untying a fabric wrapped gift? Where’s the fun it that? Now you could argue that if the alternative options were all we ever knew then we wouldn’t expect anything else. Not only that but to many of us gift wrapping is a treasured tradition. It is a ritual that the majority engage in, especially during the run up to festive celebrations. So until the new generation of parents condition the humans of the future with the alternative, more sustainable options we still need to address the here and now.
The long and short of it is that we aren’t moving away from paper based wrapping any time soon, especially while wrapping paper provides the cheapest and most convenient option on the market; it’s no wonder it’s the nation’s number one favourite. However, there are a few minor adjustments you can make to your wrapping paper purchases to help decrease the overall impact you have on the planet.
- Buy Recycled Wrapping Paper
- Make Sure The Paper Is Recyclable
- Opt For Locally Produced Paper
- Choose Twine instead of Ribbon
1. Buy Recycled Wrapping Paper
[¹]“Each year, a forest the size of Wales is required to provide all the paper used in Britain.” That’s a lot of trees, and unnecessary carnage. We all know that paper is a renewable resource, but that’s only as long as we have enough trees to cut down whilst new ones are established, which is not good. [²]“And of course it’s not just the loss of natural resources and wildlife that’s at stake.” Cutting down trees is speeding up climate change.
Recycled paper doesn’t harm any trees because it is made out of, that’s right you guessed it, recycled paper waste. At the same time, this reduces waste sent off into landfills since each sheet may potentially serve up 4–5 additional cycles before being triumphantly pronounced “done.” It’s also worth noting that the production of recycled papers uses 70% less energy, 90% less water, and 38% less Co2 (carbon dioxide emissions) than creating new paper from raw materials, making it the greenest paper option available.
Despite what you may think, recycled wrapping paper doesn’t mean having to have poor quality paper printed in bland muted colours, quite the contrary.
[³]“Research and innovation in the recycled paper industry now means that printing on recycled paper does not mean approaching the design or printing process in a different way.” Recycled wrapping paper comes in various weights(gsm) and sizes, colours and patterns, and its very nature means it is recyclable. It’s just important to know that just because the paper is recyclable doesn’t mean the ink and embellishments used on it are, and that’s where things start to get a little more complicated, which I will address under the next point.
2. Make Sure The Paper Is Recyclable
Most gift wrap isn’t recyclable [⁴]“meaning that it either heads straight to landfill or gets mistakenly placed in the recycling bin where it can spoil entire loads of recycling.” Wrapping paper, especially the cheaper stuff contains some form of plastic, which means it cannot be recycled.
[⁵]The BBC recommends using something called the scrunch test, which you can watch here to determine whether the paper can be recycled. This involves scrunching up the paper to see if it holds its shape and if it does it can ‘probably’ be recycled, but this method can only really be used during disposal and not during the purchasing process for obvious reasons. The simplest way to tell whether paper can be recycled when buying it is to look for the recycling symbol on either the packet, paper or, if purchasing online, under the product description. There are also several tell-tale signs to look out for when it isn't stated. For instance, you cannot recycle the paper if it is; shiny, reflective, metallic, waxy or laminated in any way, this includes those sparkly papers with holographic effects. These clearly indicate that the paper has been blended or coated in plastic. The remaining no no's are foils, glitter, and velvety raised surfaces. Yes, we know that they make the gift look very pretty, but they are incredibly harmful to the environment; plus, there are many eco-friendly alternatives that can be used to tart up your paper-wrapped gifts instead.
3. Opt For Locally Produced Paper
With the wonderful invention of the internet, we are no longer restricted to UK-manufactured goods. [⁶]“Today’s globalised market fulfils our every whim by delivering goods that are either unavailable in our own communities or are cheaper to buy elsewhere.” but this contributes significantly to global warming; [⁷]“Car emissions alone account for 15% of the UK’s overall carbon emissions”.
[⁸]Buying locally is a great way to stimulate your economy and support your local community, and because it reduces the transportation distance, you’ll reduce air pollution, which helps slow down climate change. Dirt-cheap products often reflect on quality and labour. Opting to buy locally means your products have passed thorough regional and national checks and ensures workers are not exploited, which is sadly often the case in poorer countries.
4. Choose Twine Instead of Ribbon
Gifts are wrapped in more than just paper, so don't undo your hard work by covering your lovingly wrapped gift with sellotape or ribbon. Instead, Twine String is the most environmentally-friendly option. Made from natural materials such as Jute or Cotton, Twine String will break down naturally over time so can be disposed of without harming the environment. Twine is also great to use with arts and crafts, making it easy to repurpose.
I hope this article has given you some helpful tips on purchasing the greenest wrapping paper available. So next time you’re shopping for wrapping paper, be Earth kind by purchasing paper that has been recycled, is recyclable and is made in the UK. To help you on your merry way, you can view our eco-friendly wrapping paper range here. Happy Shopping!