You might think that wrapping gifts without the use of plastic should be fairly straightforward. I too thought this was the case until very recently. Apart from the obvious plastic which we can often find rolls of gift wrap packaged in, a lot of it isn’t just made from paper, and can in fact, contain plastic.
This means that although we may have good intentions and put it in the recycling bin when someone has opened their gifts, if it’s mixed material, it’ll go straight to landfill.
So how can we get around this problem? Christmas has just been and gone, and during that time, I searched in a number of different stores for alternatives. What I found is as follows:
Individual sheets of paper gift wrap
In book stores and some card stores I found gift wrap being sold in individual sheets. This was great as not only did it mean I could just buy what I needed instead of a 10 metre roll, it came package free. And at 29p per sheet, it worked out more cost effective too!
I knew it was made from 100% paper, as when it was scrunched up, it didn’t bounce back at all. Again, I’ve recently discovered that if what you think is paper is actually mixed material containing plastic, it won’t stay as scrunched up and will bounce back a little.
Paper gift bags
The same applies to gift bags. Many of them are made from a mixture of paper and plastic which is very difficult to recycle. A lot of them also have glitter on them (which is classed as a micro plastic). So after looking in various stores, I found a pack of 5 paper gift bags, also with paper handles, which just came with a thin paper band around the middle to hold them together. So no plastic! I’ve found that the best types of stores to look in for paper gift bags are stationery stores and hobby / craft stores.
Brown paper tape
Again I hadn’t really thought about it until recently, but sellotape or scotch tape is actually made from plastic too. So, even if you do have paper gift wrap which is fully recyclable, by putting sellotape on it, it makes it un-recyclable. So after finding this out, I set out to find a more eco friendly alternative.
This proved more difficult to find on a shopping trip than I thought it would. I looked in the post office, as well as in various high street stores, but sadly to no avail. So I decided to look online, since I’d heard of a number of plastic free online stores in recent months. I found rolls of brown paper tape for sale, and so decided to bulk buy and I purchased a few rolls. The ones I found are here and here
Again, this is another alternative I’ve only come across very recently. If you have heard of the Japanese term “Furoshiki” then you will probably know what I’m talking about. If not, Furoshiki is a type of “wrapping cloth” which can come in various patterns, colours and sizes. They are usually made from 100% cotton (which is an eco alternative as cotton is a natural fibre). They can be used again and again for a number of purposes such as re-wrapping gifts; napkins; tablecloths; to make gift bags or shopping bags.