Wrap it right

17 12 2010
Christmas present wrapped in cloth

The Japanese tradition of wrapping presents using cloth

Members of Nottingham Trent University’s Future Factory project give their tips on sustainable wrapping for Christmas gifts.

Tom – If you think you’re doing your bit for the environment by filling your recycling bin full of wrapping paper each year, you might be surprised to learn that most Christmas paper can’t be recycled, such as those which include special laminates and glittery metals.

According to the Daily Telegraph (22 Dec 2008) over 200,000 tons of recycled waste paper goes to landfill every year because of contamination by wrapping paper.  So if you can’t put your waste wrapping paper in the recycling bin, what can you do with it?

Well you can re-use it to wrap another present. I remember as a child in the ‘60s, Christmas morning always saw my mother carefully folding up the wrapping paper as it came off the presents.  Of course, the less sticky tape you use, the easier it is to re-use the paper. One of my sisters liked to wrap her presents very securely and used masses of tape; we could never re-use that paper!

Alternatively, you can use it to make things, treat it like a material.  And what a material it is.  All that glittery stuff means that whatever you use it for will be striking. 

You could also follow the advice of the Waste and Resources Action Programme, which suggests furoshiki – the Japanese tradition of wrapping presents using cloth – as an alternative to paper.

Angela – Forget the wrapping completely and hide your gifts around the house with clues to their whereabouts. If you haven’t many gifts to hand out then this is a great way of extending the gift giving experience, but make sure you know the humour of the receiver before you start with clues like ‘the place you’re never likely to venture on your own’ for the laundry basket, or ‘you’ve been looking at this all year’ when it’s behind the TV.


Professor Tom Fisher
Professor of Art & Design and author of Designing for Re-Use: the life of consumer packaging

Angela Scott
Future Factory project coordinator

To speak to Professor Fisher or Angela, call the University Press Office directly on 0115 848 8751 or email christmas@ntu.ac.uk.

Future Factory is part funded by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supports East Midlands’ SMEs in adopting new products, services and business practices which ‘design out’ unnecessary or unsustainable materials and processing, and ‘design in’ features such as environmentally neutral technologies and materials, recyclability and sensitive disposal.




One response

23 12 2010
Helen Puntha

A useful reminder about all the waste we make when we’re having fun at Christmas. If you haven’t got any fabric at home to use as wrapping there is some available to buy, e.g. at the New Internationalist shop: http://shop.newint.org/uk/

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