Reduce, reuse, recycle: how to make the most out of your wrapping paper


Here’s how to make wrapping paper waste a thing of Christmas past

Christmas can generate a lot of waste, and wrapping paper doesn’t help. It’s estimated that 75,000 tonnes of waste was generated over Christmas in 2019. Sadly, a large part of this is the gorgeously festive wrapping paper we’ve grown accustomed to. So how do we make more conscious choices when it comes to what goes under the tree? Here’s how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle your paper this year. Now the gift you give can also be a gift to our lovely planet!


When it comes to gift-giving, half the fun is watching the receiver peel back layers of Christmas trees to find a perfectly chosen present inside. And you might not want to swap to a bag for that reason. But if you do decide to forgo the paper, a bag is an excellent alternative as it is easily reusable by the other person – once you leave off any markings.

Gift wrapping pack, M&S (€16)

Or, you could try cloth wrapping. Furoshiki is a Japanese cloth wrapping method, which will allow you to wrap gifts in fabric that can be reused or repurposed forevermore. Learn how to wrap here. Marks & Spencers even have wrapping sets that let you keep the festive pattern, but without contributing to the waste.


Say you’re on the receiving end and wind up with a bag full of wrapping paper waste, don’t take it straight to the bin. If you’re careful when opening the gifts, you can preserve the paper, and use it again. If it’s in good shape, hold onto it until next year, and use it to wrap presents you’re giving someone else. Or, get creative and start crafting. You can use the paper to line drawers, kitchen trays, even bookshelves. Adding cardboard to it means you can cut it into gift tags for next year, or an upcoming birthday. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make these tiny envelopes for coins, gift cards, jewellery, or trinkets.




If you were too excited on Christmas Day and tore through the paper (who could blame you?), you can still keep the waste. Scrunch up old wrapping paper and use it to protect anything you’re posting. Line that care package to your sister in Australia to ensure all the chocolate arrives in one piece. If you’re moving house and aren’t sure the antique lamp will survive the trip, pop it in a box and surround it with paper.


With wrapping paper,  many assume it’s recyclable right off the bat. But because of the plastic content, it isn’t. Thankfully, many wrapping paper producers are aware of the waste issue, and have been creating paper without the plastic coating we’re used to. Look out for ‘plastic free’ and ‘fully recyclable’ on the tube. If you receive a gift in plastic-free paper, make sure you remove any tape or tags, and boom – you’re ready to recycle. A good rule of thumb is if the paper scrunches up when you squeeze it, and it’s devoid of glitter or foil, it’s good to go. If not, it needs to be in general waste.

At the end of the day, whoever receives your gift won’t mind how it’s presented. It’s from you, and that’s what matters. But by being conscious about the wrapping we use, and how we use it, we can keep Christmas waste to a minimum. We likely won’t have a white Christmas this year, but we can have a green one!