The holiday season is here, and with it, the custom of Christmas gift-giving. Since the advent of wrapping paper, people worldwide have used it to disguise their gifts, making them a surprise for the recipient.
These wrapped items are then placed beneath the Christmas tree or inside stockings to prepare for Christmas morning gift-giving.
According to studies, individuals prefer getting a wrapped present over an unwrapped one. On the other hand, Wrapping paper has a significant environmental impact, which we will examine in this article.
The Problem of Wrapping Paper
Wrapping Paper is a Significant issue for Various Reasons
Every year, 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is discarded. WRAP estimates that the amount of wrapping paper used during the Christmas season in the United Kingdom alone would reach the moon. Every year, a forest the size of Wales is required to supply all of the paper used in the United Kingdom. Wrapping paper is extremely popular and extremely wasteful, as evidenced by the statistics above. Wrapping paper is a single-use item; therefore it is used once and then discarded or recycled.
Some gift wrap is not recyclable due to the presence of foil or glitter, so it either ends up in the landfill or is mistakenly placed in the recycling bin, where it can contaminate entire loads of recycling. Wrapping paper is frequently created from virgin paper made from logged trees in forests; the environmental impact of forestry has been widely documented. Wrapping paper is typically sealed with non-recyclable adhesive tape. Also, if the tape is left on the wrap when it is recycled, it can cause problems at the recycling facility. Wrapping paper isn’t required; gifts can be given without it.
Increased use of Wrapping Paper during the Christmas Period
Unsurprisingly, the demand for wrapping paper rises over the holiday season. However, most wrapping paper is not recycled, and much of it ends up in landfills. In 2018, Brits projected to discard the equivalent of 108 million rolls of wrapping paper after Christmas. Christmas generates an additional five million tonnes of waste in the United States, four million wrapping paper and shopping bags. In the United Kingdom, customers use around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year and discard 108 million rolls of wrapping paper.
Each year, approximately 50,000 trees are projected to be cut down to produce enough wrapping paper.
The low recycling quota appears to be something from another era. Recycling all wrapping paper trash could require 70% less energy than manufacturing it from raw resources. One tonne of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 18.7 square feet of landfill space, and 4,000-kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Shiny, glitter-encrusted paper is very dangerous, and cannot be recycled and is made up entirely of microplastics. The glitter pollutes the oceans and is consumed by animals, where it accumulates in their stomachs and can be lethal. Wrapping paper is frequently coloured and laminated and may also contain non-paper elements such as gold and silver colouring, glitter, and polymers. Then there’s the matter of sticky tape, which is still frequently stuck to paper when discarded. Landfill or even incineration are frequently the sole options for garbage disposal.
How to make a Difference this Christmas
Check to see if the wrapping paper you buy is recyclable – if it is foiled or glittered; it isn’t. Buy recycled wrapping paper to reduce your environmental effect. Use the scrunch test on the paper that comes with your gifts; if you scrunch it and it stays crumpled up, it can be recycled. Unfortunately, if it remains scrunched up, it must be discarded in your standard garbage container.
Before you put your wrapping paper in the recycle bin, remove all sticky tape and present tags.
What is Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper?
The majority of wrapping paper sold in card stores and supermarkets is made from low-quality fibres that have been coated with plastic, coloured, or embellished with glitter. Most of them are also too thin, have low-quality fibres, or have sticky tape applied to them. Because of these characteristics, they are unfit for recycling.
An eco-friendly wrapping paper is the polar opposite, as it is made from recycled materials such as newsprint, which decomposes naturally. It is also made of recyclable materials and is not coloured or laminated. Finally, recycled paper mills embrace eco-friendly wrapping paper because it biodegrades in landfills.
Why Should we use Eco-Friendly Wrapping Paper?
Every year, billions of dollars are spent on wrapping paper. In 2016, the United Kingdom alone tossed over 227,000 miles of wrapping paper – enough to cover the whole island of Jersey. Furthermore, if we stacked all of our Christmas cards together, they would wrap around the planet 500 times. The figures don’t stop there.
Over $11 billion in packing material is discarded in the United States, and over 15 million Christmas trees are uprooted. According to Greenpeace, producing one kilogramme of wrapping paper produces approximately three and a half kilos of CO2. It also requires about one and a half kg of coal to power its manufacture.
The carbon footprint of your packaging will be considerably reduced if it is produced from recycled materials. Similarly, if the packaging is made of natural materials like bamboo or FSC-certified paper or cardboard, the growth of such products pulls carbon out of the environment. Eco-friendly packaging is the way to go if you want to make your company carbon neutral.
We could go on and on about Christmas statistics, but the basic line is simple: gift wrapping has a negative impact on the environment. Keeping this in mind, finding greener ways to give gifts, such as eco-friendly wrapping paper alternatives, is critical in today’s ecologically conscious society.
Gift Wrapping ideas that are both Creative and Environmentally Friendly
While we don’t recommend sticking with traditional wrapping paper, not all paper is off-limits. Examine your desk drawers, storage bins, and cupboards for forgotten travel maps, music pages, or other bright, unusual, but still recyclable material that might give a personal touch to your gifts.
Old-Fashioned Brown Paper Bags
Plain brown paper bags only need a little creativity and a few bright accents to be anything but boring. Small brown bags can be reused as gift bags by adding mistletoe, holly, or pine cone sprigs, colourful gift tags, twine, yarn, recyclable ribbon, small ornaments, or even seasonal stamps to transform any ordinary item into a wonderful addition beneath the tree.
Add to the Bucket
Repurpose any empty buckets you may have lying around the house, buy some cheap galvanised buckets, set the gift inside, and voilà! Finish with a recyclable ribbon and some foliage to complete your wrapping. The thoughtful gift is given to the lucky recipient, along with a bucket that may be used for various functions. It’s two gifts in one.
Keeping with the notion of two gifts in one, consider making the “wrapping” part of the true gift and wrapping it in a wonderful scarf, a fun T-shirt, a beach towel, or any other fabric that suits the theme of your gift or that you know the recipient will adore.
Reusable Tote Bags
This is an excellent ecological gift-wrapping choice. Consider presenting in a reusable shopping bag to make it even more eco-friendly. Single-use shopping bags are now being charged in an increasing number of states. So, once again, it’s a gift within a gift. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have my Trader Joe’s washable shopping bags.
The Mason Jar
They are the ideal, no-frills, can-be-used-forever gift-giving container for anything from tasty delicacies to itty-bitty plants to any little gift.
Box it up
Begin by not throwing away the present boxes. Save them with your Christmas decorations for next year. Because everyone buys from Amazon, start saving the boxes brought to your house to reuse for Christmas, birthdays, or any other gift-giving occasion. They still have a lot of life in them and don’t need to go to the recycling centre before it’s too late.
Switch to Green Gifting
The term “green gifting” refers to an alternative to utilising standard wrapping paper. It is a new trend that tries to reduce the negative environmental impact of gift-giving while saving money for personal budgets. Some people try to avoid contributing to the amount of waste generated by carefully unwrapping gifts so that the paper may be reused, utilising old newspapers (as in the past), or using decorated cloth gift sacks that can be reused several times. Both of these are examples of green giving, which promotes recycling.
Hallmark, a manufacturer of gift wrapping and greeting cards, claims to employ 100 per cent recycled content in the cores of their wrapping paper. Despite experimenting with integrating recycled materials in their products, it has not been well received by customers.
Given today’s throwaway culture, it’s tough to predict whether green gifting will catch on with the vast majority. Still, with growing environmental problems that will touch us all, this may be the better alternative if you don’t want to discover a lump of coal in your stocking this Christmas.