Most wrapping paper isn’t recyclable and during the festive season Australians use 150,000km of it… here’s a better way to make it through Christmas without all the waste.
During the holidays Australians get through enough wrapping paper to wrap around the Earth’s equator four times.
We wouldn’t call wrapping paper pointless packaging, but once the excitement is over and the gift is open it usually becomes waste.
Why is wrapping paper waste a problem?
Anything that becomes waste quickly is problematic.
During the festive season, general household waste increases by 30% with non-recyclable wrapping paper contributing as one of the top festive waste makers.
Can you recycle wrapping paper?
Not all wrapping paper is recyclable and not all recycling facilities accept wrapping paper for recycling.
Why? Wrapping paper often contains more than just paper. Dyed all different colours, wrapping paper can contain foil or glitter (or both) and is often laminated.
A lot of wrapping paper is too thin to effectively recycle and arrives at the facility covered in sticky tape.
These types of wrapping paper are non-recyclable.
How do you know if you can recycle your wrapping paper?
If your wrapping paper is pure paper, it can be recycled.
If you’re not sure, the BBC recommends scrunching your wrapping paper into a ball. If it stays scrunched it can probably be recycled.
Can you avoid wrapping paper waste?
If the thought of all that wrapping paper becoming waste and sitting in a landfill concerns you, here are 10 tips to prevent, reduce and even eliminate the wrapping waste this holiday season.
10 tips for keeping it waste free under the tree
1. Save and reuse old paper
One way to prevent wrapping paper from becoming single-use waste is to reuse paper from gifts you receive for the gifts you give.
Open carefully, remove the sticky tape carefully and smooth out creases by storing paper flat within a heavy book.
2. Use alternatives to sticky tape
Sticky tape isn’t recyclable and contributes to wrapping paper not being reusable or recyclable.
Using a reusable ribbon or twine to hold wrapping paper in place means you won’t need sticky tape and paper will be in a better condition to be reused.
Alternatively, fold the paper over and peg the paper and your gift tap in place.
3. Upcycle old paper and boxes into decorations for next year
Most wrapping paper can’t be recycled because it contains foiling and glitter and is lovely to look at.
If you can’t reuse it, think about upcycling it.
Use a paper punch to cut shapes out of your wrapping paper, stitch the shapes together to make a decorative garland for next year’s festive décor.
4. Repurpose household items for gift wrap
Save money and avoid buying wrapping paper altogether by using what you already have at home.
Old magazines, old newspapers, old maps or paper bags all make perfect wrapping options.
5. Choose recycled paper that's recyclable
If you read your magazines and news online and have nothing you could repurpose as your festive wrap, do some research into a recycled and recyclable paper.
With a little forward planning, you can keep your gift wrap recyclable.
6. Buy gifts that don't need wrapping
To eliminate wrapping waste completely, choose gifts that don’t require gift wrap.
Buying experiences, vouchers to favourite shops or restaurants and online subscriptions to favourite magazines are great gifts – no wrap required.
7. Try a T-Towel
Gift wrap that becomes a gift. You can never have too many T-Towels which is why ENJO’s large Bamboo T-Towel forms the perfect reusable wrap for gift wrapping that becomes useful.
8. Decorate your gifts with twine and greenery
Even though ribbon and trinkets used to decorate gifts are reusable, we can’t guarantee the person receiving the gift will reuse them.
Replace ribbon with biodegradable twine and decorate your gifts with native greenery instead.
9. Use reusable stockings and sacks for family gifts
Avoid unnecessary wrap altogether when it comes to family gifting.
Beautiful stockings and sacks are reusable, customisable and the thing family memories are made of.
10. Wrap gifts in fabric
Wrapping your gift in a natural material like cotton not only looks great, but it’s reusable and as a natural fabric, cotton biodegrades meaning zero waste.
If keeping it waste-free under your tree is important to you...
Share these tips with family and friends and share any of your own in the comments section below.
For more tips to minimise your festive waste check out this post.
Browse ENJO's cleaning range for more ways to minimise waste this Christmas season and beyond.
Editor's note: This post was updated on 14 December 2020.