• Jessica Evans

Eco-friendly gift-wrapping and what you didn't know about paper

It’s no secret that plastic is B A D. I’m trying to cut it out of my life and my consumption wherever possible and gift-wrapping is an immense plastic waste culprit. Think of all the cellotape you use to seal all your wrapping and the cellophane around hampers.

But with all the attention on plastic, people forget about the other waste they produce – paper. The paper used for gift-wrapping is typically bleached. If you want to understand why that's bad for the environment, scroll to the bottom of this post.

There are so many waste offenders to look out for. It can be difficult to approach the festive season with a goal of minimal impact and at the same time avoid a feeling of hopelessness. So here are some ideas that can help you reduce your impact on the environment this festive season.

You will need:

  • Brown paper

  • Paint

  • A potato or two

  • Plastic-free string or twine

  • Muslin bags

  • Jars

  • Brown paper or card tags

  • Toilet rolls

  • A soap dish/ soap dishes

  • Ink and alphabet stamps (optional)

  • Mint, rosemary or lavender (optional)

  • Feathers (optional)

Decorate your own wrapping paper

I first saw this on a YouTube video by Jordan Clark and it’s a great idea to reduce plastic waste and paper waste!

  1. Roll out your brown wrapping paper.

  2. Cut your potato in half and carve a shape out of it - I attempted a star. If you’re like me you may need an adult to help you cut a decent shape (lol). Potatoes are biodegradable so they make a wonderful eco-friendly stamp.

  3. Use your finger or a paint brush to cover the shape in paint. Stamp the shape onto your paper and let it dry.

  4. Wrap your gift as you normally would but instead of using tape to fix the folds to the gift, tie twine around the gift.

  5. Wabam!

Toilet paper pillow box

I found this in the same video and it's such fun to do! Not only is it cheap, but it’s upcycling something you would have thrown away anyway and turning it into an adorable little gift box that's eco-friendly.

  1. Flatten your toilet roll.

  2. Fold the sides towards each other. They’ll naturally make a concave shape on the edge.

  3. Neaten it up by pinching along the fold and on the outer points.

  4. Wrap some twine around it and you’re done.

Eco-friendly reusable packaging

Ultimately when it comes to gifts its best to make the wrapping part of the gift rather than a throw-away covering. Here are some ideas:

Bake some cookies or other home-made treats and plonk them in a clean used jar. Wrap a ribbon or some twine around the mouth of the jar. Stick a tag on it and you’re done. The person receiving the gift can use it for whatever they like – perhaps they’ll make a terrarium with it!

Muslin bags inspired by Jordan Clark. You can find these at an arts and crafts store (I found them at PNA). Use them as packaging for smallish gifts or give them as a set. To add some personalisation you can stamp a name or a message on the bags.

A soap dish. Make your own soap (or buy it, whatever) and keep it in a pretty soap dish as part of the gift. You can use the dish as a mould or make the soap in a different mould and tie it into the soap dish with some twine. Slap a tag on that and you’re sorted.

A scarf. Tie your gift up in a beautiful scarf and give them both as a set.

Final touches

All of these ideas provide so much room for creative licence, making the gifts in them that much more special and personal.

Make your gifts a little more interesting by adding some foliage or feathers to the bow.

You can also stamp or write the name of the receiver on the brown wrapping itself or on a tag tied to the string.

Do your own research

There are loads of ideas like these all over the internet. Look around and find ideas that will suit the gifts you plan on giving.

Why bleached paper is a baddie

In the 1980s it was observed that fish tended to gather near paper mills. All the effluents (the stuff the mill discards into the waterways) had effects on the fish in the ecosystem. The fish showed changes in growth, mortality (how many die), maturation, and carbohydrate metabolism (how they break down and use carbs from their food).

Although research is being done on how to minimise effects on the environment, it’s best to go with paper you’re more sure is eco-friendly.

There is only so much we can do though. You can’t exactly use brown paper to print your assignment or that important report for your boss. But gift-wrapping is one field where we do have autonomy over the material we use. So we may as well exercise it.

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©2018 by Bite-sized Sci | Jessica Evans