A FORMER packaging designer who found she was “designing garbage” has set up a new business offering re-usable gift wrap.

Mary Ann Dujardin points out that each Christmas, the UK alone throws away 226,800 miles of wrapping paper – enough to stretch nine times around the Earth.

She is originally from Seattle and grew up surrounded by the evergreen trees of the Pacific Northwest. But she decided her job creating packaging and gift wrap for major brands was at odds with her love of nature.

Now resident in Poole, where she recently became a British citizen, she has created Rethinkwrap as a way of cutting waste.

The gift wrap can be used multiple times and can be recycled when it eventually reaches the end of its life. It comes in six colours and is packed in a tin.

She said she still remembered first seeing an area of forest completely cleared of trees. “I thought the decimated forest must’ve been cut down by a crazed monster on a giant lawnmower – but, as we drove past, my friend’s dad said dryly ‘Trees are for making paper’,” she said.

“Today we’ve become increasingly environmental and socially conscious, I know I’m not the only one cringing when piles of gift wrap get stuffed into trash bags.

“I love shiny wrapping paper and packaging more than anyone. I love the intoxicating glory of making something mundane into something magnificent. But I hate creating unnecessary waste in the name of someone I love.”

She said she tried to find eco-friendly solutions during her time as a packaging designer for brands such as Bonmarche, but her career was at odds with her early love of nature.

“I’ve been on press checks at 2am, excitedly watching my work flash by on bus-sized rolls of paper – a pressman yelling ‘Haha, there goes Sherwood Forest’. I have witnessed on dreary January mornings thousands of my lovingly designed seasonal shopping bags and gift wrap unceremoniously heaped into a dumpster,” she said.

“It dawned on me that I’ve spent a sizeable amount of my time on Earth literally designing garbage.”

Her new business currently consists of herself working full time with a part-time contribution from her husband. The gift wrap is made in Canada from hybrid materials.

The business has been included on a Forbes guide to gifts created by women in tech and was boosted by Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis in his online Small Business Sunday initiative.