Everyone loves opening a beautifully wrapped Christmas present, but with environmental issues at the forefront, it’s more important than ever we look to change our behaviour and cut down on waste
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Christmas can be a time of excess, with decadent consumption taking place on all fronts from booze and food, to cheap gifts and party props.
One such over-indulged-in item is wrapping paper. Each year the UK rips through some 227,000 miles of paper to conceal the gifts beneath, equating to around four rolls per household.
To make matters worse, many kinds of wrapping paper, with their bright designs and plastic feel, aren’t recyclable, meaning much is destined for landfill.
It is thought some 1,032 miles end up in a hole in the ground.
Luckily, Samantha Thomas, a recycling expert at MyJobQuote has provided some top tips on how to avoid the annual pitfall.
Can you recycle wrapping paper in the UK?
Samantha says that it depends on the kind of wrapping paper you use – some are recyclable and some aren’t.
She explained: “Many people do not know that wrapping paper cannot be recycled if it contains glitter, foil, sparkles, sticky gift labels, plastic or has leftover ribbon, bows or tape still attached.
“When these types of wrapping paper are recycled, it can contaminate the other recyclables that were sorted correctly. For example, excess glitter might transfer onto a perfectly recyclable clean glass jar and reduce its value.
“If you’re unsure if your wrapping paper can be recycled, scrunch it, and see if it remains scrunched. If it does keep its scrunched shape, it can be put in the paper recycling bin.”
What are alternatives to wrapping paper?
Rather than traditional wrapping paper, why not try alternatives like brown paper or even renewable options like fabrics.
Samantha said: “The simpler the wrapping paper, the better. Avoid thin wrapping paper, as it’s often full of ink and difficult to extract fibres from during recycling.
“Some alternate eco-friendly ideas include wrapping your presents in fabrics that can be reused. Whether that’s upcycled patterns or scarfs found on your local high street, a simple ‘knot wrap’ can wrap anything from books to bath bombs.
“Whilst brown paper may seem like the ‘boring’ option, you can still make your presents look beautiful! Simply decorate with compostable twine and add some foliage for decoration.
“Sprigs of rosemary also work well for this, and creates a gift that not only looks great but smells fantastic too. Alternately, you can reuse ornaments you have previously hung on your Christmas tree and use them for decoration.
Another option is to use gift bags rather than wrapping paper. Samantha says:
“You can also find recycled paper gift bags in an array of colours and patterns if you wish for an easy and sustainable option. If you’re gifting homemade treats or sweets, place them in a beautiful glass jar that is clear to showcase your delights, and they can be reused in the kitchen too.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.