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Enviro-Friendly Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas

Thinking about the last Christmas you spent with your loved ones, do you remember how much wrapping paper, ribbon and sticky tape got thrown away? In Sydney alone, local households will create and throw out more than 175 tonnes of extra waste at Christmas time. A 2017 study revealed that Australians use more than 150,000 kilometres of wrapping paper during Christmas – that is enough paper to wrap around the Earth’s equator almost four times!

As beautiful as Christmas wrapping paper is, much of it is unfortunately unrecyclable. Plastic cellophane, metallic wrapping or paper with foil and glitter cannot be recycled and will end up in landfill. Wrapping paper made from 100% paper can be recycled in your yellow bin, even if there is a little bit of sticky tape attached. Look out for 100% paper options when you’re out shopping.

As well as recyclable wrapping paper, here is a list of our favourite enviro-friendly gift wrapping ideas for Christmas:

Tea Towels

A gift inside a gift! There are lots of beautiful festive tea towels available to purchase, and are perfect to wrap up Christmas presents. Tea towels aren’t as fragile as wrapping paper, meaning less chance of rips and tears while gifts are in transit. As sticky tape probably won’t hold, fasten with some ribbon or twine.

Good old brown paper

A classic gift wrapping option, and is 100% recyclable. Brown papers gives gifts a beautiful rustic look, especially paired with some twine. Get the kids to decorate brown paper with stamps, paint, magazine cut outs or even dried flowers and leaves from the garden.

Old Christmas cards

Sending and receiving Christmas cards is a long and well-known tradition, but what can we do with all of those left over cards? Use them as gift tags, of course! Cut your old Christmas cards down the middle, leaving the front cover separate to the half of the card containing the writing. Flip the front cover over to write the person’s name and a short Christmas message, hole punch the top and thread a ribbon through to attach to the gift. Alternatively, cut out the front pictures on old Christmas cards and glue them onto plain brown paper to make your own wrapping paper as mentioned above.


Unlike wrapping paper, ribbon can actually be reused – when opening gifts this year, keep as much of the ribbon as you can to re-use for your gifts next Christmas. Twine is an enviro-friendly solution too, as it is recyclable.


- City of Sydney News (2018), What Christmas left behind: a guide to what you can and can’t recycle, cited on 23.10.19, <>

- News & Current Affairs (2017), Media alert: Aussies to wrap the world in paper four times over this Christmas, cited on 23.10.19, <>