Creating Waste to Save the Planet??

Is this a Sustainable Plan or a Virtue Signalling joke?

Linda Acaster
2 min readDec 22, 2022


Christmas wrapping paper showing torn edges and sticky binding tags, with child’s present awaiting to be wrapped.
Sticky blue tags and torn wrapping paper. Image © Linda Acaster

I have been wrapping the final Christmas gifts and the task has proved less than joyful. In fact, it left me seething.

Most people want to do their bit in cutting back overuse of the planet’s resources. Food is not thrown away in this house, it is eaten; clothes are not worn and tossed, they are donated to thrift shops or recycled, even down to holey socks which go for shoddy. It’s not difficult. It’s not rocket science.

So why do I have to negotiate a huge virtue signalling gaffe when it comes to rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, all to show that the thinner-than-skin shrink-wrap is no longer used in its packaging?

Instead, each roll is sealed by the use of six — read it and weep, six — sticky tags which are supposed to be peelable?

Peelable by whom? Certainly not anyone with poor eyesight. Certainly not anyone disabled by a mild stroke and trying to regain the independence of normal day-to-day activities. And what about the close to 1% of the population suffering rheumatoid arthritis, mostly in their fingers, mostly women?

And those peelable tags are rarely peelable from the paper they bind. No matter how careful I was — and we are talking twenty minutes per roll here — the tag either removed the paper’s pattern or tore a streak straight through it.

Squinting at the small print, even the tags admit that Extra Paper Given As Protection and should be cut away and discarded. What??!!

Despite my best efforts, there was no other course available. So a strip 7 x 28 inches (18 x 69cm) was left to curl on the table. Unwanted. Unused. Unusable. From three rolls. What a waste of paper; what a waste of production resources.

I don’t care that the paper is 100% Recyclable or is From Sustainable Sources. Somewhere along the line a tree was involved. Or several.

There are 28 million households in the UK. It is estimated that on average each uses four rolls of Christmas wrapping paper. That is 112 million strips of paper 7 inches wide that are discarded unused. That is 21.77 million yards, or 12,369 MILES of unusable paper 28 inches wide.

Just how much does that cost in manpower to shift? In energy to recycle?

This is progress?? I call it Virtue Signalling.

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Linda Acaster

British multi-genre fiction author who haunts historical sites - check out her publication 'Escape Into History'. For novel links: