It’s a Wrap

Louise Tomlin explains why responsible and reusable gift wrap is not just for Christmas – it’s for LIFE...


is a time when we go overboard and excuse all types of excesses with the time-worn expression, ‘Well it IS Christmas after all’. We over-indulge and max out the credit card on presents, and as if that’s not enough many of us also indulge in excessive flashy wrapping that can’t be recycled, made from mixed materials with a liberal sprinkling of glitter. Yuletide does seem to make us lose our sensible heads, but gifting goes on all year round and we’re just as liable to irresponsibly purchase environmentally damaging ‘tat’ in June as in December.

Unless you’ve been avoiding the news, I think it would be impossible for you not to have heard about the damage our over-use of plastic is doing to the environment. We’re being urged to consider the impact our carelessness is having on wildlife on land and in the sea by respected thought leaders like David Attenborough.

I’ve tried to be more aware of plastics I allow into my home so, when I shop, I go for loose unwrapped veg in paper or no bags at all. I’ve ditched wipes, I opt for glass bottles and jars instead of plastic… I do try but there’s still a long way to go.

It’s hugely upsetting how much harm microscopic particles of plastic can have on animals and fish who have no escape because they are living amongst them. In a recent TV programme on river walks along the Stour in Kent, a wildlife campaigner was showing children the creatures living in the river and educating the youngsters about the ecosystem.

She mentioned how sad it was to pick up a snail that had glitter embedded in its shell. It’s great that she is teaching children that using glitter is a no-no. It may look pretty but it gets everywhere, especially into water, and may well end up not just inadvertently glitzing up a snail’s shell but in a fish’s stomach, which then ends up being eaten by another creature, and so on.

And if you are the sort of person who doesn’t give a fig about animals, how do you feel about the possibility that the food you are consuming may well have microscopic plastic particles in it, that end up inside you? Although if you are this type of person, I doubt you will have read this far…

So thank goodness there are now some viable options available in the shape of eco-friendly, zero-waste, recyclable products for everyday life (yes, not just for Christmas but all year round!)

I’ve been encouraged that so many companies are already on board with an amazing array of alternatives to what for most of us are the standard choices of wrappings for presents – remember most paper wrappings are laminated so they aren’t recyclable, but fear not, there are lots of eco-friendly options to choose from now.

Recycled Paper

First up is this Curlicue gift wrap from Stars at Dusk paper is suitable for any occasion and there are many other designs to choose from. All are 100% recycled and use vegetable-based ink in a waterless and chemical free printing process in the UK to keep the carbon footprint low (from £8).

Bento Bags

I love these decorative, cloth Bento bags. They are the perfect zero-waste alternative for wrapping gifts and are reusable for many things besides wrapping another present or five! In Japan they are called Furoshiki and are often used to carry lunch. Being made from easily washable cloth, they have a long and useful life (from £6.99,

Boxing Clever is a Kent-based
company with a lovely offering of
eco-friendly gift boxes in a wide range of colours and sizes. They look clean, stylish and tasteful, with no glitter or shiny foil in sight, and can be used again and again (from £7.50).

Cotton Picking

Here’s the gift that keeps on giving – reusable linen gift wrap, made from 100% organic cotton, handmade in the UK. It can be used time after time to create a sustainable system of gift wrapping amongst a family or group of friends. Fold the linen wrap around the gift and knot to secure or use twine or ribbon (from £11

Back to Black

Less is definitely more if, like me, you are attracted by the minimal look so here’s a super-tasteful option from, black matt Kraft paper. It’s also available in matt white or brown. If you are feeling really creative, you could add some simple twines or dried flowers or customise with paint (from £3.95).

Sumptuous Satin have beautiful linen wraps as well as bags in many attractive colours and designs, but these sumptuous satin wraps caught my eye. They’re ideal for those who are environmentally conscious but want to add a touch of luxury. The satin wrap is easily a gift on its own and can be reused as a scarf or hair tie (from £6.49). There are lush velvet reusable bags and wraps too (from £7.50). The company has some useful tutorial videos on their website with nifty tips on how to wrap gifts with fabric like a pro.

Shop Around

I must point out that there are many other companies out there offering similar ecofriendly products and it was heartening to realise, whilst researching, that I found greener alternatives for products as wide-ranging as skincare, cleaning and packaging. I previously had no idea that these were available and what’s more, they are reasonably priced. So here’s to a more sustainable way of consuming, that doesn’t cost the earth.

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