All Wrapped Up - Composting at Christmas

7 December 2012  |  HOTBIN Composting

12 Days of HOTBIN Composting

Day 12All Wrapped Up

Waking up on Christmas morning to a stack load of beautifully wrapped Christmas presents under the tree is what everyone looks forward to. It’s a familiar scene as the family crowd around in anticipation of present opening and one lucky person is nominated as “posty” to start handing out presents.

So let’s get opening …


Gift tags / Ribbon/Embellishments

Once you’ve read the gift tags and thanked the recipient, the tags usually made from card can be cut up and placed in the HOTBIN. Elements such as foil will not compost, however cotton based string will.

Then you have ribbons, bows and bells, these come in all guises, big or small, foil or natural fibres, unless paper/cotton based cannot be composted and are best recycled or re-used for your next crafting mission. In Victorian times, embellishments on gifts used to be in the form of greenery which would have been ideal for composting.

Gift Wrap

Although cards have been around since the 19th century, gift wrapping took a little longer to catch on. Traditionally gifts would be wrapped in tissue paper and embellished with white ribbon or lace and an outside garnish where available.

In the early 1900’s, Hallmark sold coloured tissue paper as gift wrap, when they unexpectedly sold out and not wanting to disappoint customers they found and alternative in the form of decorative envelope lining paper. This was highly popular and was the basis for wrapping paper as we know it today.

Although wrapping paper these days consists more of non-paper additives (i.e. glitter, plastics & foil) which cannot be recycled, the recent trend to customise your own wrapping paper starting with brown kraft paper is becoming a popular choice – and one that it could be argued harks back to earlier traditions.  

With 8,000 tonnes (equivalent to 50,000 trees) of wrapping paper alone used each year and 227,000 miles binned you can see why we are being encouraged to recycle/reuse. In addition, as many major companies are already sourcing sustainable paper as well as other materials, this will only continue to help reduce the impact on our planet.

TIP: When putting your gift-wrap in the HOTBIN ensure it is free from sticky tape and any embellishments that won’t compost otherwise you will end up with a big clump in the bottom of your bin. Also don’t forget to shred!

Corrugated Cardboard / Cardboard

Once the wrapping paper has been removed, you may be faced with a lot of boxes, some may be brown corrugated boxes that “Santa” delivered, others may be coloured or even coated. If the children haven’t nabbed them to build a fort or for use in their latest craft project and  pets aren’t sleeping in them or shredding them to pieces for fun, chop up any brown corrugated card boxes and mix them in with your HOTBIN waste to help balance moisture levels in the bin.

Any printed boxes which could be described as being similar to cereal boxes are best collected and recycled in local collections due to having a high lignin content. If you do decide to use them in you HOTBIN, add sparingly and do expect it to be present in the final compost as blobs of very compressed paper. Boxes with wax coatings will also be slower to compost than brown corrugated card.

Unwanted Presents

Natural materials will compost, just as with ribbons - so in theory you could also throw in an old Christmas jumper too. Whilst we are joking as we like to avoid wasting new gifts, people have composted jumpers before.