By Kimberly Hinds

Hark, as we heave a seasonal shudder. Tis the time for giving and receiving… and also for throwing out armfuls of crumpled-up wrapping paper and discarded ribbon!

Most Christmas packaging can’t be recycled so it ends up in landfill – not the kind of Yuletide magic we had in mind when we spread our good tidings.

This year, with so many domestic and global travel restrictions, people all over the world will also be posting more Christmas gifts to their loved ones than ever. Unless Santa and his reindeer are hand-delivering those presents (no fossil fuels used there!), the journey from purchase to destination is unfortunately, generally one unrecyclable, non-biodegradable odyssey.

In many cases, the presents are first bought online (they don’t call it Merry Clickmas for nothing!), delivered to the buyer in a cocoon of plastic, then unwrapped and re-wrapped up in paper and ribbons, then possibly plonked into another post satchel (more plastic - grr) to be sent to the recipient. It’s a triple whammy of waste.

Every Christmas, household waste increases by an eye-watering amount. Obviously, no-one intentionally sets out to create such excess (“gather around children, come and see the unnecessary waste we have accumulated for landfill this Christmas!”) but it is an unfortunate and yet totally avoidable consequence of the act of gift giving.

In the USA, an estimated 38,000 miles of ribbon is chucked out every year2, which is enough to wrap all the way around the planet (with some left over for a miserable bow). And, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, there is a 25% increase in volume or about 1,000 pounds of extra waste per household1. If you think of that in terms of Christmas dinner, that’s about 100 chunky, honey-glazed hams. Burrrrp.


Foil may feel festive, but it’s difficult to reuse and there’s no option for it except landfill. 


If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 jolly football fields.


In Australia, each Chrimbo (as they like to call it in ‘Straya’), about 150,000km3 of wrapping paper gets used – that’s the same distance as travelling from Oz all the way to the North Pole and back, more than five times over. Crikey!

When you’re planning a Christmas present for the person who has everything, you probably won’t be thinking, “Gee I bet they don’t have a large box of excess holiday waste and guilt,” so here’s a little tip, why not post that perfect present it in a totally waste-free way?

At Better Packaging, we know that most people want to be nice, not naughty, which is why we have created a new product line especially for this time of giving. The ‘I’m Wrapt’ and 'I'm Gifted' mailing satchels are designed to be reused as gift wrap after serving their mailing satchel purpose. They eliminate the need for single-use gift wrap, card and ribbons.

How does it work? Just open the satchel carefully along the perforated line, pop the present inside, write your note on the pre-printed card and re-seal it using the sneaky second seal. It’s waterproof and strong, and labels stick easily to it. Basically, this offers everything a plastic satchel does except for harming the environment, and will biodegrade in a home compost along with your Christmas dinner leftovers in 3-6 months. Voila!

So, save the excess at Christmas for your pudding, #WrapWellWrapOnce and help make the world a less wasteful place. 

Most Christmas packaging can’t be recycled - basically anything with foil, cellophane, glitter or tape

Curling ribbon is rarely, if ever reused. Straight to the bin for this!



  • Decorate presents with nature’s bounty – a sprig of real holly, a small pinecone, a stem of rosemary …

  • Keep any ribbons you receive to be reused next year, and if you do have to purchase some, make it natural cotton, twine or string. That way it can go in the compost bin too.

  • Choose paper – preferably recycled and recyclable ie. without any glitter, gloss or laminate. If it doesn’t shine that’s a good sign!

  • Purchase from online retailers that you know do their best to avoid single use plastic in their packaging. Our Directory of Better Friends is a great place to start!

  • Furoshiki is the Japanese art of wrapping with fabric. There are numerous tutorials online (we'd recommend this 1million women one). Consider cutting up some old sheets and stamping them with a good old potato star stamp!


Our friends at August & Poppy add reusable decorations for a festive touch

Leave a comment (all fields required)

Comments will be approved before showing up.