Day 8: Gift wrapping

Shall we talk about gift wrapping? I love to wrap Christmas presents! This is definitely a time to put on Christmas movies, snack on mince tarts and cherries, pour a glass of prosecco or something more festive (like mulled wine or egg nog), and settle in for a big night with a pile of thoughtfully gathered gifts on one side, and festive wrapping materials on the other. 

The bad news is that traditional wrapping paper is not at all good for our planet. The good news is that there are loads of alternatives that are just as beautiful and creative as they are kind to the world in which we live. 

Why should we care? 

  • The making of paper involves the harvesting of trees, the processing of wood fibres into pulp, and the disposal of the product
  • According to Greenpeace, every kilogram of wrapping paper made emits 3.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide during production
  • Most wrapping papers have very little in them that is recyclable or reusable: they are made with synthetic ink, plastic film, bleach, chlorine, and metal-based foil and glitter 
  • Many rolls of wrapping paper also come wrapped in their own film of plastic, while others are made out of (non recyclable) foil
  • Laid end-to-end, the wrapping paper thrown away each year from the UK alone would stretch around the equator nine times
  • In the USA, the combination of wrapping paper and gift cards at Christmas time contribute to more than 100,000 trees being cut down 
  • Another USA statistic I read was that every year, four million tons of wrapping paper and holiday shopping bags go into landfill 
  • If you think you can at least put all that wrapping paper to a merry use by burning it in the fireplace, please hold back: decorative paper has been found to contain lead, synthetic inks, plastic film, chlorine, and metal-based foils, all of which release toxic and carcinogenic compounds into the air when burned

All of this, for a single-use product that only serves an aesthetic purpose? It's heartbreaking. There must be a better way! Let's make some changes... 


    Creative and kind gift-wrapping ideas

    Here are some ideas. You don't have to buy them new,
    thrift stores are a fantastic place to search...

    • Decorative boxes 
    • Scarves
    • Tote bags 
    • Bento lunch-boxes 
    • Vases
    • Jars
    • Decorative bowls
    • Beeswax wraps 
    • Pillow-cases 
    • Tea towels 
    • Tablecloths and table-runners


    • Pages from used magazines 
    • Vintage magazines and newspapers
    • Pages from old books 
    • Drawings and paintings your children have made 
    • Recycled kraft paper 
    • Old sheet music 
    • Wrapping paper you saved from gifts you were given

    Here are some things you could use to decorate paper-wrapped presents: pressed leaves and flowers, washi tape, ribbon, scraps of fabric, wax seals, berries slipped under string, ink stamps, painted illustrations, decoupage, feathers. 

    Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths. They are often beautiful and patterned (or you can make your own out of fabric scraps and old dresses or sheets - decorated if you like with paint or dye), and are wonderfully reusable.

    Furoshiki can be used to wrap just about any gift, using origami folding techniques. And they can be turned to any number of subsequent uses, turning into tote bags, laundry bags, bottle carriers, lunch bags, and more. 

    If you'd like to learn how to wrap furoshiki around just about any shaped gift, this guide from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment is super helpful, and here is a blog post another reader referred me to that will give you ideas. 

    What do you think? Do any of these inspire you? Have you got any more ideas for me? (I haven't started wrapping my presents yet). Feel free to get in touch - you can write to me directly at

    See you tomorrow!