Since August, or so it seems, the shops have been full of Christmas merchandise – cards, puddings and rolls of wrapping paper, amongst other things.

Everyone looks forward to seeing what is under the tree on Christmas morning, brightly wrapped, whether expertly or not (my husband is getting better each year!).  Some people spend ages picking out the right paper to match a particular theme and make sure that they wrap everything in the same colour scheme, adorned with ribbons and bows, whilst others just use whatever is available, not caring whether it matches or not!

santa claus in traditional red costume putting gifts under christmas tree -  Stock Photo - Dissolve

What both of these groups have in common, though, is the fact that the are wrapping the gifts. But why do we do this? Isn’t it a waste of paper?

Gifts have been wrapped since 1300s, but it was fabric that was used.  In 1600s Japan the tradition of furoshiki, involving wrapping gifts in fabric began and is still around today.  In the early 1900s it was tissue paper that was widely used, and the in 1917, when they ran out of tissue paper, the Hall brothers (of Hallmark fame) began to sell printed paper, thus giving rise to modern-day gift wrap.

It is thought that 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is used in the UK each Christmas, with over 83 km2 ending up in the bin. But what impact does this have on the environment?

Research has shown that producing 1kg of rapping paper will release 3kg of carbon dioxide, the most notorious greenhouse gas, blamed for climate change, mainly because of the amount of coal needed for the production.

Recycling of wrapping paper is a possibility, but not all wrapping paper can be recycled.  Paper that has glitter or metallic patterns shouldn’t be put into the recycling, so always make sure it will scrunch up and stay scrunched up. Remember, also, to remove any sticky tape, bows or ribbons before popping the paper into the recycle box, as these cannot be removed later and contaminate the load when it gets to the recycle plant.

Gift Wrapping Tips and Tricks

So, remember, when you are excitedly ripping the paper off your presents, to sort the rubbish into pieces that can be recycled and those that can’t.

Until next time, keep cam and apply some Science!

Read more: paper recycling facts