Now that the Christmas shopping period is upon us, it’s time to think seriously about how our gift-giving affects the climate.
While it’s important to make sure what you’re buying isn’t going to be wasted, it’s just as important to think about how you present it, too.
According to packaging experts at GWP, an extra 30% of rubbish is produced in the festive period compared to the rest of the year.
Along with food and unwanted gifts, one of the main culprits for this is wrapping paper.
Waste management company Biffa estimate that more than 100 million bags of rubbish are sent to landfill each Christmas.
Of this, it is estimated that three-and-a-half black bags full of festive packaging will be thrown out per household.
And yes, having something gift-wrapped does make it feel that little bit more special, but considering Brits will bin around 108 million rolls – or around 365,470 km – of wrapping paper per year between us, is it really necessary?
According to Shop Like You Give a Damn, that amount of wrapping paper could go around the earth nine times, so we’re going to go with no.
Plastic packaging and sticky tape also account for much of the festive waste, with about 40 million rolls of sticky tape and around 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging used every Christmas.
Making small, sustainable swaps is one way you can limit waste this Christmas.
Stacey Skidmore, managing director of sustainable retailer Ecovibe, has shared some sustainable swaps for making gift-giving more planet-friendly this Christmas.
‘Christmas wrapping paper tends to be laminated to give it that glossy look or covered in glitter for a festive touch.
‘However, this type of wrapping paper is harmful to the planet as they use plastics, making them non-recyclable and non-biodegradable.
‘For a zero-waste swap, try out wrapping paper that is made from 100% recycled materials and that is recyclable or biodegradable.
‘That way, no nasty plastics will be lying around in landfill for years to come.’
Tip: fabric wrapping paper is also a sustainable and reusable option.
‘For a zero-waste and plastic-free option, look to invest in reusable gift bags made from more durable materials, such as cotton.
‘These can be used year after year or even be passed down to younger generations.
‘Alternatively, you can swap for paper gift bags that are also plastic-free and made from 100% recycled materials.
‘Avoiding plastic means they can be recycled year after year too once disposed of.’
‘While labels themselves tend to be widely recyclable when made from paper or card, the Sellotape that we use to stick them onto presents can unfortunately change this due to its plastic materials.
‘Instead, swap to string or ribbon to attach your labels for a zero-waste option – they are not only reusable but can also be widely recycled.’
‘Similar to wrapping paper, cards that have been laminated with plastics or are covered in glitter will no longer be recyclable, so try to avoid these where possible.
‘For a great zero waste swap, there are really innovative options available, such as those made from wildflower seed paper that can be planted and grown into beautiful flowers.’
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