Tips to Reduce waste this Christmas
As the festive period approaches, you know what that means…more eating, more drinking and more spending! However, this excess comes at a cost, not only to our pockets and waistline but the environment too - with more waste being produced as a result.
Being only month away from Christmas, why don’t we try to keep it the most wonderful time of year and not the most wasteful? Trust me, it will be a much merrier Christmas knowing we’ve done our bit for the environment. To help kick start this, I have collated 10 easy and effective ways to cut down on unnecessary waste over the holidays:
Use Recycled Wrapping Paper:
Ripping apart wrapping paper with the anticipation of what gifts lie beneath is all part of the Christmas day excitement. However, wrapping paper creates tonnes (around 5 million per year!) of excess waste and the environment impact of this is astounding.
So, why not purchase recycled wrapping paper (there are some lovely patterns available) or better yet, avoiding purchasing wrapping paper all together – get creative and use old newspapers or brown paper to wrap. Another idea would be giving an alternative gift such as a voucher for a day out which will not only save you on packaging but your creativity will no doubt be appreciated.
Avoid Christmas Cards
According to research from Imperial College, the UK throws away 1.5 billion Christmas cards each year! Now I’m not suggesting we put a stop to the whole concept of giving Christmas cards as it is lovely to both give and receive them. However, to avoid this huge environment waste, encourage friends and family to send E-cards which are equally beautiful and can be kept forever in your email inbox rather than the typical Christmas cards which will be thrown away. Alternatively, if you prefer physical cards then look to purchase those with the FSC stamp which proves they have been produced sustainably and ethically…and avoid cards covered with glitter and foil at all costs!
Make Edible Gifts
Exchanging gifts is one of the many joys of Christmas but we often find ourselves giving boxes of chocolates as a safe and tasty option. However, these boxes of treats (as heavenly as they are) use far too much packaging. Therefore, why not channel your inner Nigella and try gifting homemade biscuits, cakes and chutneys which are extremely thoughtful and equally delicious gifts.
Pick Decorations from your Garden:
Opting for natural decorations is not only a great festive activity for the whole family but they can look just as beautiful as store-bought ornaments. Anything covered in glitter should be avoidable as it cannot be recycled. Instead, explore your garden for fresh holly, pinecones and mistletoe which will contribute to the festive feel of your home without costing the environment. Plus, they can go back into the garden and be composted once Christmas is over.
DIY Refillable Advent Calendars:
I know disposable advent calendars filled with chocolates are tempting, however, they tend to include lots of unnecessary packaging using single-use plastic…awful stuff. Instead this year, why not try purchasing or making your own fabric or wooden calendar which can be refilled every year? All you’d have to do is gather the treats, small gifts or decorations to fill each window with for the ultimate eco-friendly festive countdown.
Use LED Lights
Seeing my Christmas tree beautifully lit up is one of my favourite aspects of the festive season. However, making the switch from standard electric tree lights to energy efficient LED lights has made this far more enjoyable. Additionally, keeping these switched off during the day will reduce electricity wastage. As for the twinkly outdoor displays, use solar-powered fairy lights which won’t require a nearby plug!
Try Home Compositing:
Rather than filling your bin with carrot and potato peelings, an excellent use is turning them into compost. Better yet, don’t just limit this to vegetable peelings – scrunched up newspapers, tea bags and fruit scraps can all be composted. Not only is this fantastic for the environment but your garden will thank you for it!
Buy Products with Reusable Packaging
Bottles – yes, cans – no. Once the contents have finished, bottles can be reused for storing water in the fridge or watering cans for the garden. The same with ice cream containers which can store the leftovers from Christmas day, the more reusable tubs the better!
Use Plastic-free Toiletries:
The best hosts know to always stock up on extra toiletries for guests. Especially over Christmas when you may have family and friends staying the night, why not avoid adding extra to landfills by switching from bottles to soap and shampoo bars and bamboo toothbrushes which are great to have on standby. Various low-waste bathroom essentials can be purchased here: https://www.urbangreencompany.co.uk/collections/low-waste-bathroom
Only Buy what you Need:
Items like carrots, bacon, potatoes and other meats end up filling our December shopping lists. I think we can all admit to buying more than we need in the fear of running out of food…or heaven forbid we have an impromptu visit from friends and we don’t have any mince pies left!
However, this indulgence leads to around 7 million tonnes of Christmas food waste each year. So rather than trying to feed an army, think carefully about portion consumption of guests and what food you will actually need - if no one is a fan of Brussel sprouts then don’t buy them! With the inevitable leftovers, get creative - there are endless online recipes just for this. Remember to also separate organic waste and use it for compositing…your garden will never have looked better! Even the birds will appreciate a few scraps.