Each year 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is thrown away instead of being recycled. In 2017, it was estimated that 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging would be thrown away in the UK at Christmas. As we move into 2021, here are some tips on how to keep your Christmas as sustainable as possible!
The biggest issue at Christmas time is the amount of unrecycled waste from gifts and wrapping paper. When choosing how to wrap up your presents, consider other materials which might work just as well. For example, a good way to recycle your own waste would be to use paper bags and newspapers that you were going to throw out anyway, or wrapping paper that you’re able to save from another gift. Other materials might include tea towels, scarves or old t-shirts! If you still want to opt for wrapping paper, an easy way to check if it is okay to be recycled is to scrunch it up, if it stays in a ball then it most likely is able to be recycled. However, if it bounces back, then it probably had a protective plastic layer on it which means it has to go straight to landfill. Other things to look out for are sticky tape, ribbons and paper covered in glitter, as these also can’t be recycled. Twine always works well in replacement of ribbon and paired with an eco friendly brown paper alternative, looks beautiful!
To save on packaging, you could shop for second-hand gifts this Christmas. Depop is a good site whereby you can browse second-hand products. Furthermore, local charity shops would be even better due to their lack of carbon footprint and their donations to charity. Although buying second-hand gifts is great, ultimately swapping one of your old items in return for somebody else’s item is probably the best thing you can do this Christmas. By downloading an App called Swapabee, you are able to do just that! You can list your own things and choose someone else’s that you’re interested in and swap in a location of your choice, or send items through the post. This is a really easy option too if you’re low on money during this period, or just want to try out a more sustainable way of shopping for gifts
Another great way to limit the amount of packaging and wrapping paper waste at Christmas is to buy a more expensive gift, rather than lots of cheaper ones. By pooling your money together with a group of friends, a more luxurious gift could actually be a much cheaper and more sustainable option. As well as this, 1 billion Christmas cards are also put in the bin each year, so opting for a Christmas e-card might be your best bet! Easy ways to do this is by getting creative on the free design app ‘Canva’ or sending someone a thoughtful email. If you know someone you can’t reach by email, just giving them a call to wish them a merry Christmas works too. If a Christmas card is completely necessary, then opting for the one which is made from recycled materials and doesn’t contain materials which can’t be recycled, such as glitter, would be your best option.
Buying someone an experience rather than an item eliminates all packaging and wrapping waste. A good example of this is to buy someone a class in dancing or cooking. Maybe they have been going on about a band they would like to see in concert? Or another great idea is to purchase them a voucher for a haircut or a massage. If you like the idea so much, why don’t you be their plus one
When it comes to Christmas trees, A total of 6 million are said to be discarded every year. There are certain steps you can take to minimise this figure, such as looking into renting a tree. This is probably the kindest thing you can do for the trees this Christmas as at the end of the festive season, the trees are replanted and saved for the following year. This means you are able to have the magic of a real tree without the waste that would usually come with it. If you still prefer to buy your own, you can make sure it has been sustainably sourced by checking it for an FSC Certification. Of course, an easy option is always to buy a good quality fake which will last you many years. Now you have your tree, you need to decorate it. What better way than to reuse your baubles from last year! As long as you are to invest some money into the tinsel, lights and baubles you purchase, they should last you many years. If you are in need of buying more, you could buy second hand from local charity shops or swap your old decorations for different ones on the app Swapabee.
We can’t forget the food waste which is created each year during the festive period. There are endless ways in which you can use your turkey leftovers in dishes that aren’t just turkey sandwiches! For example, you could create a delicious curry with chickpeas and large chunks of turkey. Alternatively, you could turn the turkey into strips and use it in a great risotto. The bones are usually thrown out, but this year you can make a beautiful stock with them which can be used for soups and stews. And of course, the turkey needs wrapping too – around 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil gets thrown away every Christmas in the UK. An alternative to this would be all-natural cedar wraps!
Hopefully, there are some ideas here which you can take on board this Christmas. As we are getting closer and closer to the 25th, more and more waste is being put into landfill. Everyone is so busy during the Christmas period, so it is incredibly important to make time to think about the ways in which you can help minimise the amount of waste you make. Small changes will go a long way, and I hope you have a very merry, but green, Christmas.