Brits turn to sustainable gift wrapping with guidance from the North London Waste Authority

Author: Helen Greaves

Read Time:   |  27th November 2021

Vegan Food & Living may earn commission from the links on this page, but we only ever share brands that we love and trust.

The North London Waste Authority is encouraging Brits to rethink the way they wrap gifts and embrace sustainable wrapping paper alternatives.


Reusing items in our homes instead of buying single-use wrapping paper this Christmas may seem like a radical step to some, but it’s the kind of urgent action needed to help tackle climate change, advise the North London Waste Authority.

Approximately 11.8 million kilos of carbon dioxide are emitted each year just from the manufacture of Christmas wrapping paper, according to carbon footprint experts Giki.

Removing this process would be equivalent to taking 4,917 cars off the road.

Wrapping gifts in scarves, pillowcases, and old comics or magazines may soon become the norm as a growing number of people are already turning to alternatives to shop-bought wrapping paper.

A survey by Census wide has revealed that of 2,000 UK residents polled, 64% had tried an alternative wrapping method last Christmas.

The survey suggests that Brits spent a total of 81 million hours wrapping presents last Christmas.

Of those who used alternatives to wrapping paper, 36% re-used gift bags, 9% decorated brown paper with ink or paint, 8 used paper like newspapers or comics to wrap up the presents and 7% used fabric.

An awareness of the non-recyclable nature of shiny and glittery wrapping papers was also evident, with 41% saying they avoid these kinds of gift wrap.


The Rethink Wrapping campaign

The North London Waste Authority has teamed up with Red Ted Art, Style and Sustain, Origami Est, and fashion designer Sophie Cochevelou to provide inspiration and video tutorials for more sustainable gift wrapping.

They suggest the following tips to wrap gifts in a more environmentally-friendly way this year:

  • Reuse gift bags to save time and money.
  • Use colourful fabrics that you already have to wrap items in the style of Furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping).
  • If you’re feeling crafty, up-cycle comics, magazines or newspapers into Christmas wrapping, including bows and snowflakes to decorate. These can be easily recycled afterwards.
  • Tie string around plain brown paper for a rustic look, and use foliage and herbs like holly or rosemary for decoration.
  • As a minimum, steer clear of shiny or glittery wrapping papers.
  • If you do use shop-bought paper, look for ‘recyclable’ and the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) mark.
  • Minimise the use of sticky tape, as it can’t be recycled. Or, even better, avoid it completely by wrapping gifts in origami style.

For more information and step-by-step tutorials for sustainable wrapping methods, check out the Rethink Wrapping website.

You’ve got the low-down on sustainable gift wrap, now find something to put in it with our 2021 Christmas Gift guide.

Written by

Helen Greaves

Helen has been vegan since 2018 and has a background in vegan food marketing and social media. She's mother to a mischief of rats, and loves to spend her spare time making vegan cakes and bakes.

We use cookies to give you a better experience on By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our Cookie Policy.

OK, got it