I know what you're thinking: "wrapping paper is paper, isn't it recyclable and therefore sustainable?"
Unfortunately, most gift wraps are coated in a layer of wax, which gives them that smooth-to-touch finish. However, this additional wax makes the paper unrecyclable. But don't worry, there are loads of ways to make your prezzies look stunning under the tree, whilst keeping our planet stunning too! Here are our top tips:
1. Re-use old gift wrap/bags.
Are you the careful type who tries to unwrap every gift as delicately as possible so the wrapping doesn't tear? Or perhaps you have dozens of gift bags lying around from past presents given to you? Well, why not re-use these for all your wrapping needs? Get in touch with your creative side, or perhaps enlist the kids to help with any wrapping that might need redecorating (for the gifts from the family of course😉 Santa will have to sort his own). Textas, paints, twine, ribbon, whatever is lying around, use it to spruce up that old paper and make it into something spectacular! This is a great option as it means you aren't buying new paper made from newly cut trees. But don't fret, if you'd prefer to buy, because you rip all your old wrapping to shreds, there are more options for you too. And luckily, logging is growing more and more sustainable each year through tree-planting and replacement methods.
2. Opt for non-waxed paper.
So you like to buy new paper, no dramas! The market for non-waxed paper is growing exponentially. Plain brown is the easiest to find, and you can easily make it cute and holiday-esque using the same methods above. There are also lots of local, Australian artists making non-waxed gift wrap from recycled paper. A great find is the 'All Wrapped Up' book series, which features different artists across the country, each with their own 20-sheet book of unique wrappings. This is a fantastic option to be more sustainable, and also support local Aussies! These are available from various stores, including Paper Republic.
3. Make your own packages.
Similar to option 1, perhaps you have some empty shoe boxes lying around? Or, cardboard packages from all those deliveries we've been getting all year because of lockdown? Or, if you chose to order gifts for your friends and family online this year, you can use the packages they come in! Paint over those shipping labels, tie them up with some ribbon or twine, throw in some crushed lavender, a cinnamon stick, pop it in a Christmas box... just kidding, but bonus points if you got that reference 😘
None of these options work for me... what can I do?
Don't worry, Christmas is around the corner and some other holiday celebrations like Hanukkah have already begun. The key to sustainability is not to have a few people execute it perfectly; it's to have many attempting it as best they can. But now you've read this, and have these tips in the back of your mind, you can start preparing for next year (or the next birthdays, baby showers, etc, etc). If you can contain your excitement, try and handle your gift wrap with care when unwrapping to keep for later, save those cardboard packages from deliveries, or start researching local artists selling sustainable paper near you. Remember, a little effort goes a long way!