Photo and graphics: author

Applying circular principles to make wrapping paper more sustainable

Photo: Jeremy Gallman on Unsplash; graphics: author.

Welcome to the Circular Advent! Each day I’ll pick an aspect of Christmas and use circular principles (keep materials and products in use, design out waste, and regenerate natural systems) to explain how we can be more sustainable. Today: Wrapping Paper

Keep products in use:

The easiest thing is reusable wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes. However, it is reliant on the gift’s recipient knowing what you are doing. Talk to people and ask them to either reuse the wrapping or return it to you. Boxes and bags communicate their reusability more easily than paper.

Design out waste

Avoid using tape to seal gifts. You avoid unnecessary single-use plastic and guarantee the paper doesn’t have to be torn or damaged to open. String or non-plastic ribbon is the best.

Be aware that most wrapping paper can’t be recycled; the paper is too low quality and turns to mush in the machines. Finally, avoid glitter; it can’t be recycled and even if you reuse the paper you can’t avoid shedding and losing some of the microplastic.


I’ve created a page for additional resources, which I’ll populate with other ideas and companies who are working in this space. In the meantime if you have any tips you’d like to share, let me know.