Wise Up To Waste Logo
Wise Up to Waste Logo


Giving presents is an important part of many special celebrations, including birthdays, baby showers, weddings and Christmas. However, it is estimated that 29,000 tonnes of waste is generated in the UK alone from gift wrap and shopping bags every year. The gifts themselves, decorations and gift packaging require energy and resources both for manufacturing and disposal. But there are ways to reduce the impact of gift-giving without giving up the gifts. Here are some ideas for low-waste giving.



  • Choose gifts with less packaging, especially non-recyclable packaging. 
  • Send electronic cards instead of sending cards through the mail.
  • Experience gifts or donations to charities on a person’s behalf can make special and memorable presents. Tickets to a show, a day out, or a beauty treatment are just a few suggestions which avoid any waste packaging.
  • Reduce the amount of wrapping materials you use by combining gifts into one package, instead of wrapping each gift individually.
  • Consider homemade gifts such as chutney, biscuits or a homemade cushion cover or bag made from material scraps.



  • Save gift bags and wrapping paper from gifts to reuse again.
  • Even crumpled wrapping paper can be reused; place the paper underneath a tea towel and then iron carefully on a low heat. This will iron out any creases in the paper while minimising the risk of the paper browning from the heat
  • Collect decorative tins and boxes throughout the year and use them to package a variety of gifts.
  • Decorate your gifts with small reusable items, like buttons or cloth ribbon, instead of purchasing bows or paper ribbon.



  • Choose gifts with recyclable packaging.
  • Avoid buying foil and metallic or glittery wrapping paper and gift bags as these are generally not recyclable. Please don’t put foil and metallic or glittery wrapping paper in your recycling bin.


Furoshiki wrapping technique
Do you want to add something new to your gift-wrapping repertoire? Try the Japanese Furoshiki technique where gifts are wrapped in fabric.