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wrapping paper

12 days of plastic free Christmas: day 7

The festive period brings with it a huge rise in the amount of single-use plastics. Everything from decorations, to wrapping and even some of the food on your Christmas table.

Here at the University of Hull we are asking everyone to take a pledge about reducing their plastic waste at Christmas by providing simple, easy and affordable ways to help minimise plastic waste in the home. Our 12 Days of Plastic-Free Christmas will run from December 1-12 and include, fun and easy to do swaps this Christmas.

Wrapping paper

Lucie asked her local Brownies group to think about things that we use or buy over the Christmas period which relies plastic. They came up with wrapping paper, Christmas crackers, tinsel, baubles and packaging on presents, toys and food.  They then discussed how all of these could easily be made without the use of plastic so that it could be recycled.

Lucie chose to look at wrapping paper and why some wrapping papers cannot be recycled.  She found out that the UK will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year which is enough to go around the equator 9 times (1).

Lots of people think that wrapping paper is recyclable but most wrapping papers are not.  Some quick steps to check whether your wrapping paper is recyclable are as follows:

  • Has it been dyed?
  • Has it been laminated?
  • Has it got glitter on it?
  • Has it got coloured shapes on it i.e. silver or gold?

If any of the above, then it cannot be recycled. Sometimes there are plastic materials attached to the paper:

  • Has the paper got any bows or ribbons on it?
  • Is the Sellotape still stuck to it?

If any of the above are on the paper, you cannot recycle

If you have followed the above steps and are now left with some wrapping paper the final test is the scrunch test.  Scrunch up the wrapping paper.  If it stays in a ball its recyclable, but if it uncrunches then it’s not recyclable (2).

Phew…. A great way to make sure that your wrapping paper is recyclable is to make it yourself.

What you need

wrapping you will need

  • Brown paper
  • Ink Pads and stamps or
  • Coloured pens or crayons or
  • Paint
  • Imagination


wrapping how to

  • Find a big work space to lay out the paper.
  • Take your chosen method of decorating and start
  • Done!

wrapping final


Authors: Lucie Parsons and Katie Parsons

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