Christmas is a time to spend with your loved ones, so as we start to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year, we face the harsh reality that this holiday has on the environment.
At this time of year, we naturally tend to eat and drink more. As a result, we generate more waste. It’s estimated that on average, 3 million tonnes of rubbish are thrown away in the UK at Christmas. So how can we do our bit to make Christmas a greener and cleaner time?
Think before you buy
Food waste is one of the biggest wastes at Christmas, with around 230,000 tonnes being thrown and £275 million lost. The reason? Panic buying. In the run up to Christmas, many panic buy to ensure they have plenty of groceries from meat and veg to those little sweet treats.
If you’re a panic buyer, remember your friend the freezer. By freezing leftovers, you prolong the life of food and can use it within the upcoming months. For those leftovers which can’t be frozen, chuck them on the compost heap or recycle in your food waste caddy.
As a Nation, we love to send Christmas cards and better yet, to receive one. In the UK, we send on average 900 million Christmas cards, which is equivalent to 17 per person and 33 million trees.
To reduce your carbon footprint, why not think about making cards using things you have around the house? Or why not try the increasingly popular way of sending greetings, E-Cards.
The scrunch test
Due to the materials used to make wrapping paper, like dye, lamination, glitter or plastic, it is one of the hardest items to recycle. Often sticky tape is left attached to the paper, making it unable to be recycled.
To check if your wrapping paper can be recycled, do the scrunch test. When you scrunch the wrapping paper into a ball, if it remains scrunched up, it can be recycled. Alternatively, you can purchase recycled wrapping paper or use paper only gift wrap.
To check the rules around recycling your wrapping paper, it’s best to check with your local authority.
Flatten those boxes
If like us you do a lot of your online shopping online, you’ll be familiar with the never-ending supply of packaging that accompanies any purchase. Before purchasing, check with your local authority about the plastic which fills the boxes.
Boxes are high-value recyclables and are often overlooked during the festive period due to the sheer volume. Don’t worry about the tape, flatten those boxes and recycle.
The Christmas centrepiece
A Christmas tree is the centrepiece of many homes during December. If you opt to go for a real tree, you can recycle this tree and quite often, your local authority will usually arrange a special collection in January. Alternatively, you could hire your tree, which is an increasingly popular tree. Check with your local garden centre to see if they offer this service.
Artificial trees are made from a combination of materials which means they’re unable to be recycled but, they can be reused. If you’re looking to replace your artificial tree, consider donating to a local charity shop.
Get it right first time
1 in 10 Christmas gifts end up going to landfill each year, which is not only a waste of money but hugely impactful on the environment. Think before you buy to avoid buying unnecessary gifts. If you receive a gift which you don’t want, why not consider donating? To view a selection of gifts for charity, such as poverty busting pigs and lifesaving loos, visit https://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped.
With the environment and climate at the centre of most people’s focus, what have you got to lose by reducing your waste this year?