It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most wasteful. An extra 30% of rubbish is produced and thrown away during the festive period, compared to the rest of the year.
From buying too much food than we can consume, to throwing away hundreds of thousands of miles of wrapping paper, there’s no doubt that most of us up our waste consumption at Christmas.
How can you reduce your waste consumption at Christmas?
1 - Rethink your Christmas food shop
If nobody in your house usually eats the Christmas pudding, or you’re always left with two plates left of mince pies, consider cutting back. It can be tempting to over-purchase for those “just in case someone gets hungry” moments. But realistically, you’ll buy more than enough if you just cut back slightly. Or you could donate the excess that you would usually buy to the food bank collections found in most supermarkets.
And plan for leftovers by investing in good containers, too. A family of four is unlikely to be able to finish a whole turkey in a day, and almost all of us are always left with more roast potatoes. But there are so many leftover recipes online, too. And if you’re now spending Christmas alone, or just the two of you, and you now have a whole feast which should feed 10 between you, you can donate what you can to food banks. Turn a negative into a positive!
2 - Use biodegradable wrapping paper - or make your own!
Wrapping paper is one of the biggest culprits of waste at Christmas. Our presents look best when wrapped and under the tree - but could you rethink your choice of wrapping this year?
You can invest in biodegradable wrapping paper from the likes of WWF, Oxfam or WH Smiths. Or, if you’re feeling creative, why not take old newspapers, magazines and brown paper and make your own wrapping paper?
People will likely find it even more touching than usual, as they can see the hard work you’ve put into their gift. You can see our step by step gift to making your own wrapping paper here.
3 - Send e-cards instead of physical cards
Most people throw away their cards some time after the 27th December. While they’re a thoughtful gesture - could you get the same message across with an e-card?
We do understand that some relatives really cherish a card - and especially this year, some might be craving the physical touch, and their loved ones handwriting. If you do send cards, ones without foil, glitter of shiny coatings can be recycled.
Or why not consider upcycling them out of goods you already have around the house, such as eco-friendly glitter and cardboard? Since it’s homemade, people may choose to cherish it in their memory box for years to come, to.
4 - Do you actually need those stocking fillers?
Here’s a staggering fact for you: more than 21 million people receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas. When you’re filling your kids’ stockings to the brim or buying that extra filler present for your friend, take a pause and think if it’s something that they will actually make use of.
There’s the saying ‘buy less, buy better’ for a reason. Everyone appreciates quality. Could your money be better spent on one present for your loved one that will last and they will actually make use of, instead of a novelty gift they could tire of before they’ve even sat down for Christmas lunch?
5 - Give the gift of a donation
We all know those people who are adamant that they don’t want anything for Christmas, or those who just buy everything they want, when they want it.
Instead of the painful process of scrolling on Google to find something that they may like, why not offer them the gift of giving to their chosen charity?
And if you want to keep the momentum going, you could even donate to an environment charity, such as The Woodland Trust.
6 - Homemade presents
Homemade gifts offer a personal element to a gift that no shop-bought item can, and the sentimentality of them means they’re less likely to be thrown away!
Got lots of baking goods in your cupboard you need to make use of? Why not make some pastries or cakes for your friends?
We all love food, and home cooked food, such as jam, chutney, or even home-brewed beers, offer an extra slice of love. Many people have got dogs this year too due to the move to working from home - why not hand make a bauble with their dogs name on?
7 - Buy a pre-loved Christmas jumper
Christmas is the time for indulging, but many of us buy a new Christmas jumper each year, even if we still have last year’s one. If you don’t already have one, you’re still only likely to wear it once or twice a year. Christmas jumpers trigger huge levels of waste each year, so why not consider buying a pre-loved one from a charity shop?
Or, if your friends also have ones from past years, why not swap with each other for a fresh outfit? Or if you’re feeling creative, why not turn an old jumper into a festive one?
8 - Reach for reusable gift sacks
Many of us put groups of gifts into huge paper sacks, which get thrown away after presents are opened. Why not invest in a reusable gift sack which you can bring out every year?
You can also get personalised ones which the kids will look forward to seeing under the tree for years to come.
Above all, we should all enjoy the Christmas break and festivities this year. Try to be conscious of too much waste, and remember that homemade gifts, wrapping paper and card can be better for the environment and for the heart!