In the UK, we bin 100 million rolls of gift wrap after Christmas. In the USA, 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags go to waste – that’s about 30 million trees cut down just for one day. And most gift wrap can’t be recycled – it’s paper mixed with plastic, glitter, dye, ink, laminate, sticky tape etc. So it ends up in landfills or incinerators
Wrapping gifts is part of a tradition of giving – the issue is how we wrap. Melat from Lambeth has started a campaign to change our habits and use, or re-use, more sustainable alternatives – scarves, t-shirts, cushion covers, pillow cases; children’s drawings and paintings; maps you bring back from holidays; old calendars; packages from online and offline shopping, even sheet music.
Starts with me
“Most of us don’t like waste. I care about the environment and really believe in simple solutions changing behaviour – small changes add up to significant impact. It starts with me, but I don’t see myself as the face or the owner of the campaign – anyone can run with it.
“I’ve always wrapped presents in newspaper. Not everyone likes it but it gets people talking. I started the campaign with a LinkedIn post about using alternatives such as newspapers – over 1,000 people viewed the post from all over the world in just a month and I got some great suggestions for alternatives – even including printed-out PowerPoint presentations.”
The campaign includes a student competition for the school, college or university team who deliver the best ‘Mind the Wrap’ campaign in the local community. “Any extra money people contribute will be offered as prizes. At a minimum there will be a prize of £500. I’d love it to start in Lambeth schools – Vauxhall’s my home.”
“What will make a happier Christmas for me and for the planet?:
- If a newspaper promotes itself saying ‘I make great giftwrap’.
- If a retailer actively promotes plain recyclable wrapping paper as an eco-friendly alternative, especially combined with using paper tape rather than unrecyclable plastic sticky tape.
- If the idea takes off in the way that reducing plastic has, making people more mindful.”
For more information see the ‘Mind the Wrap’ campaign website