This probably won’t come as a surprise, but we’re not very good at sustainable wrapping paper in the UK. In fact, we throw away enough rolls of wrapping paper to circle the globe a staggering nine times every Christmas. 

Who doesn’t love the anticipation of Christmas gifts under the Christmas tree?  And the excitement of unwrapping a present? There must to be a better way. And thankfully, we’re here with many better options for beautifully wrapped presents that look good and do good, from reusable gift wrap to eco-friendly gift bags and many other inventive ideas.

In the UK, we throw away enough wrapping paper to go around the globe nine times every Christmas

So without further ado, here are some easy eco-friendly Christmas gift wrap options to consider…

Sustainable Christmas wrapping paper and cards: the basics

As a first step, avoid shiny metallic wrapping paper and gift wrap with glitter (sorry!). They sure are sparkly, but they can’t be recycled. The same goes for Christmas cards. The simple ‘scrunch test’ determines whether paper can be recycled; if it holds its shape when scrunched then it is recyclable. If paper springs back, it is not.

Understated brown paper makes for stylish statement wrapping – it gives your gift a certain je ne sais quoi, as it were.

For an even more on-trend festive feel decorate with twine, dried orange slices and cinnamon. Simply put slices of orange on a cooling rack in the oven at about 120°C for a few hours. Enterprising recipients can even go on to turn this into spices for mulled wine.

If you’re looking for something brighter, you can find wrapping paper made from 100% recycled unbleached paper with vegetable inks from £1.75 per sheet on

Also, handmade paper with strong eco credentials starts from around £3 a sheet on

Sustainable wrapping ideas: fabric gift wrap

Happywrap also sells re-useable fabric for gift-wrapping. There are two key rules to buying this from a sustainability point of view. 

One: buy organic or sustainable materials that have been dyed with non-toxic dyes. 

Two: impress on the person that you’re giving it to that it needs to be used again. And then again, by the next recipient. A bit like the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Otherwise the fabric takes more energy and resources to create and is hardly better than wrapping the present in single-use plastic. 

If you want some serious inspo, look up furoshiki – the Japanese art-form of wrapping gifts in fabric.

Search for #Furoshiki on Instagram or Youtube – be warned, you might lose hours of your life here – and see masterminds wrap gifts in anything from scarves to pillowcases.

Another good idea is to buy some (organic cotton) tea-towels. These can be a great shape for wrapping and are useful, too. Or for beautiful fabrics try FabRap, a website offering absolutely gorgeous GOTS-certified organic cotton materials.

DIY Christmas wrapping paper – the most sustainable option of all

Doug McMaster, head chef of London’s zero-waste restaurant Silo, says: “Not buying new wrapping paper forces creativity and that’s a wonderful thing.”

Yesterday’s newspaper isn’t only good for chip-shop chips. Both McMaster and eco-chef Tom Hunt collect images from newspapers, and use butchers twine rather than sellotape. Add a sprig of green for a festive touch.

But choose your images and text carefully… Zero-waste guru Kate Arnell‘s mum once wrapped her gift in a headline that said: “I’d rather have £250 than spend Christmas with the family”. WHOOPS.

Main image: Fabrap