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Eco Friendly Wrapping

Every year a huge amount of wrapping paper is used and thrown away because it can’t be recycled due to the mix of materials, dyes and glitter used and therefore contributing to our climate crisis. 40 million tons of trees are used to make the gift wrap and bags we use each year.

At Christmas time this becomes an even bigger issue with the large amount of wrapping paper used to make our gifts look special. In the UK we throw away over 110 million rolls of wrapping paper each Christmas. So how can we wrap our gifts to make them look beautiful and be environmentally conscious?

It is untrue that eco-friendly gift wrapping has to be boring or unattractive. With our handy tips, you will discover that you can still give beautifully presented gifts whilst enjoying a sustainable Christmas.

So, let’s ditch that disposable wrapping paper and do our bit for the environment.

One Size Fits All

Instead of using different wrapping supplies for different occasions, reduce your collection to suit all wrapping needs with an all-occasion eco-friendly gift wrapping collection. This will be better for the planet, better for your wallet, and easier on you.

Reuse Gift Bags

Gift bags are a great way to present a gift, they look pretty and festive and will look lovely under a decorated tree. It’s great to start collecting gift bags when you receive gifts and re-use them. The great thing about gift bags is that they manage to stay intact and looking good so reusing them is not an issue. The person you have brought the gift for can then use the bag again when they need to wrap a gift. Many Charities, such as Cancer Research UK have a selection of recycled gift bags for sale so buying your bags this way means you are also supporting a wonderful Charity.

Material Gift Bags

Material gift bags are a great solution for gift wrapping. Not only do they look beautiful and are sustainable, but they also make present wrapping very easy as you can just pop your present inside and pull the drawstrings. Many retailers such as Etsy now sell material gift bags, and they are a popular way for us to stay eco-friendly at Christmas and with so many varieties on sale we can all find what we want. These bags can be reused again and again and passed on from one recipient to the next, or kept and used for storage.

If you are handy with a needle and thread, you could even try making your own from some material you have at home. Pillow cases work well for larger gifts and require hardly any sewing.

Recycle Materials

If you have somewhere to store wrapping supplies, then you can collect and recycle old wrapping supplies to use when needed. If you have received a beautifully wrapped gift, then try to unwrap the gift carefully and keep the wrapping paper and any ribbons or bows to use later. You could also save everyday items too such as tissue paper or nice bags from something you have purchased in a shop, even the small bags you get from a sandwich shop can be made to look pretty and reused as a gift bag.

Recycled Paper

There are still options if you wanted to use wrapping paper and have the excitement of watching people rip open their presents, you can buy recycled gift wrap. With more brands becoming environmentally minded, there is now a great selection of recycled wrapping paper available. Raja have some nice designs which you can buy in bulk.

Recycled Brown Paper

This is one of the cheapest ways to wrap your Christmas gifts as you can buy rolls or sheet of brown paper very cheaply from many retailers including Viking and with a little imagination the gifts do not have to look boring. There are lots of eco-friendly ways to make these brown paper wrapped gifts look colourful and exciting. An easy way to do this is to purchase some Christmas stamps and ink pads and simply decorate the brown paper (this is a great one for the kids too).

Alternative Wrapping Paper

An interesting way to wrap your gifts whilst being eco-friendly is to use newspapers and magazines instead of wrapping paper. Keep any newspapers and magazines nice and neat ready to use to wrap a gift. Magazine pages work particularly well as they can add colour and decoration to your gift wrap. You could sort out the pages of your magazines before recycling them and keep the attractive ones to use a wrapping paper. Add some raffia or twine to your parcel for an attractive looking gift.

Recyclable Ribbons

Using ribbons on our gifts do make them look pretty but they are not sustainable. A way of solving this is to use recyclable paper tape which offers all the benefits of any other kind of packaging tape but being made from renewable sources with a natural rubber adhesive they can be recycled. Paper tape is strong yet easy to tear and stick to all types of packages. They can also be written on so they can double up as a gift tag. Check out the selection from Amazon.

Use What You Have

Making sure you use every last bit of wrapping paper also helps the environment. Quite often when we have a tiny piece of wrapping paper left, we throw it away but if we saved it and then used all the tiny leftover pieces together, we would have enough to wrap another gift. This saves on waste and can make for interesting looking gifts.


Gift-wrapping decorations are all around. Get out into nature and you will find so many options from twigs to holly leaves and much more. They are easy to source, free, sustainable and look beautiful when attached to a gift. If you have brought a real Christmas tree you can trim the tree and use the cuttings as gift decorations. If you have a lot of trimmings you can also look at making a Christmas wreath.

Around the House

Sometimes we have beautiful items which can be used as trimmings and we don’t realise it. The kitchen is always a good place to look, you could dry slices of lemon and orange and use these to decorate gifts (they also look great added to table centrepieces). Candy canes look lovely when added to a wrapped gift and is also an extra treat for the recipient. Sprigs of rosemary make a gift look luxurious and smell delightful.


Christmassy material such as tablecloths or tea-towels are a great eco-friendly alternative to wrapping paper. You could buy some nice Christmas tea-towels and wrap your gifts in them and the tea-towel is a extra gift to the recipient, Lakeland have some stylish options. Alternatively you could visit charity shops or jumble sales and see what they have there. A big ribbon would help secure the present.

Kids Pictures

If you have young children who have created some artwork which might end up in the recycling box, then avoid the recycling and use the pictures as colourful, creative wrapping paper. You can use multiply pictures on one gift and they do not need to be of the same theme. The children will love seeing their artwork being put to good use and not ending up in the recycling box.


Invest in Christmas Stockings which the presents can be put into and then reused year after year. Either ask for them back after Christmas to use the following year or the recipient can use them the following year to wrap their gifts.

The recycling test

If come Christmas morning as you are unwrapping your presents you do have gifts wrapped in wrapping paper and want to know if it is recyclable the easiest way to know is by doing the scrunch test. Scrunch the paper into a ball and if it stays in a ball shape then it can be recycled. If it doesn’t stay in a ball shape and springs back then it probably contains a plastic film and cannot be recycled.


About the author

Luisa Gatward

Our Head of Operations, Luisa is responsible for the smooth running of all operations including marketing and partner relationships. Having started working for TheGivingMachine in 2010, she has seen our Charity grow and develop into what we have today.

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