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How to wrap gifts without plastic


Did you know that a lot of gift wrapping paper contains plastic? I had no idea until earlier this year. It looks just like paper, how can it contain plastic? But gift paper manufacturers have been sneaking it in for years. How can you tell if gift paper contains plastic? Scrunch it up in to a ball. If it’s just paper it should stay scrunched up. If it contains plastic, it will unfold and smooth out much more easily. More elaborately designed paper, shiny paper, and paper with glitter is most likely to contain plastic.

So how do you avoid this? You could of course just hand over the gift as it is, but part of the fun of gifts is the suspense of wondering what it is, and unwrapped presents under the Christmas tree will give the game away rather easily! Here are our favourite plastic-free ways to wrap gifts:

Brown paper

Brown paper giftThere’s something beautifully rustic about a package wrapped in brown paper, and tied up with string if you have it. You can buy brown paper on a roll or in sheets from post offices or stationery shops, although it’s often hard to get it without a plastic wrapper on the outside.

Lots of online delivery services use brown paper to pad out boxes and protect the contents so save up any from deliveries to reuse.

You can make it extra fancy by doodling on the paper or using ink stamps to create a pattern, or use baker’s string or twine to add a simple decorative element.

Magazines and newspapers

Magazine gift wrap
Image by JodiMichelle CC BY-SA 2.0

As a student my housemates and I always gave each other gifts wrapped up with magazine. The colours and glossiness of magazine pages look so pretty. Bonus points if the pages give a secret clue to the contents of the package.

Make a gift bag

You could turn those newspapers or magazine pages in to gift bags if you’re feeling crafty. There’s a simple to follow guide on the How About Orange blog here

Or add some handles to one of our paper produce bags once you’ve decanted the contents in to another container for a super simple upcycled bag.
As they won’t be torn open like wrapping paper, gift bags have the added bonus of being reusable, subtly spreading the word of plastic-free thriftiness to each new recipient.

Scrap fabric

Fabric and scissors

If like me you hoard off-cuts from craft projects or clothes that are no longer fit for wearing or donating to a charity shop, then put them to use as pretty gift wraps. The easiest way is to cut a square large enough to cover your gift, and tie the ends together to seal it, or check out the different wrapping techniques in this guide to Furoshiki from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. Like the gift bags, these are reusable so it could become a cute tradition to pass them around among friends and family members until you eventually get your own back and start all over again.

How do you wrap your gifts? Share your photos with us on Instagram or Facebook @plasticfreepantryuk

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1 thought on “How to wrap gifts without plastic

  1. I love fabric bags because you make them once, then you can use them again and again (unless your Aunty pinches them). I also look for jazzy single pillowcases in charity shops – so no need to do any sewing. I also like to give scarves which can be the wrapper. If anyone does give us paper-wrapped presents, they get unwrapped carefully and any un-damaged paper is put aside to use again.

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