One minute you have a pile of tempting, sparkly-looking presents glittering under the Christmas tree, and the next, they’ve all been enthusiastically torn open, leaving behind a bin full of rubbish to be taken away.
Last year, it was estimated that Britons threw out the equivalent of over 100 million rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, along with all the associated ribbons, tags and ties – and the sad fact is that most of it would have ended up in landfill.
For no matter how well intentioned we are, perhaps carefully putting our waste wrappings into the recycling bin – the fact is that most of it isn’t actually recyclable. Indeed, if it contains plastic, dye, foil glitter or sticky tape (and how many wrappings don’t?) then our cast-offs just can’t be recycled.
Charities such as Friends of the Earth are keen to get us all thinking a bit more carefully about how we wrap our gifts, and have some crafty, creative ideas that can make presents look just as appealing without costing the earth.
One growing trend is to present gifts in the understated elegance of plain brown parcel paper, all tied up with string, and decorated with natural accessories like a sprig of holly or spruce, or even a home-made sweet or cookie. Or, for the ultimate in personalised gifts, get creative with a felt pen and draw your own Christmas symbols and messages, write the recipient’s name – or even draw on a quirky ribbon bow instead of using glittery plastic ones. Alternatively, tie up your presents with natural twine.
With recycled brown paper costing around £3.99 for a massive 12 metres at any local Post Office or stationers, that’s a cheap and easy way to get your Christmas all wrapped up – as well as keeping your conscience clear on the recycling front.
To spend even less, try wrapping gifts in pages from old newspapers or magazines, which can look stylish and quirky.
Some people avoid wrapping paper altogether and present a gift tied up in a scarf, a pretty tea towel or other usable fabric and tying the ends into a knotted bow.
And forget all those single-use gift bags and bottle bags – you can actually buy (or make) re-usable fabric versions, which can be used afterwards in wardrobes, drawers, or suitcases when travelling, to hold odds and ends like jewellery, socks or underwear.