Christmas is considered one of the most wasteful times of the year; in the UK, we produce 30% more waste than usual during the festive season. Here are some tips and tricks on making Christmas more pleasant for you and the environment.
Food is the staple of Christmas. It wouldn’t feel right without the turkey, roast potatoes and cranberry sauce. You don’t need to cut down on this to be eco-friendly, just be more conscious of what you put in your basket. Try to buy package free food by visiting your local butchers or shopping in stores like Morrisons which tend to have more plastic free veg than other stores. You can organise with your family, or whoever you’re spending Christmas with, on who brings what to dinner so there will be less waste or leftovers. 4.2 million Christmas dinners in the UK are wasted each year. If you do end up with extra food, giving to a homeless shelter is an amazing way to give to others and share the Christmas spirit (make sure to check up on which shelters accept leftover food in advance). If not, then it would be a great time to share with your neighbours or there are loads of recipes online which use up leftover Christmas food like pies, turkey noodles and tray bakes. The possibilities are endless so there really is no excuse, but in the worst case scenario, COMPOST!
Aside from birthdays, Christmas is the only other time you can get excited about gifts and giving to others. But did you know it is one of the most wasteful activities of the year? Wrapping paper’s sole purpose is to just get ripped up and binned, 227,000 miles of it is thrown out each year! There are many great alternatives you can use instead. Newspapers and brown paper are really cheap, some even cheaper than Poundland wrapping paper, and they give your presents a vintage feel. You can use materials like scarfs which serve as a present too or you can buy/make simple bags which can be reused each year and passed along friend groups. If you’re super picky then you can always buy recycled wrapping paper from certain brands, just make sure it is recycled afterwards as well. The presents that you wrap usually come in their own plastic packaging. It is much more special to make something or give someone an experience as a present. I received a coasteering experience from my friend once and it was honestly, my favourite present to date. Memories are much better gifts than an earring you’ll never wear. If you live near charity shops, you can even find brand new items that are sold for a fraction of the original price and the main idea is that you’re not buying from a plastic-producing company so you’re not creating a demand for them.
Did you know, 1 billion Christmas cards which are thrown out aren’t recycled? Cards are so much cuter handmade and should only be sent to people you really care about. Otherwise, did you know you can send digital cards? They create that same one minute of joy you get when opening a card without the waste that usually follows.
Some people decorate to impress others. We’ve all seen pictures of those crazy homes in America which are covered in performing lights. It’s not only a waste of money but it’s a huge drain on energy. Decorations should be something personal to you and something that gets you in the Christmas spirit. You can buy many decorations in charity shops or online for amazing prices or even make them yourself. You can even give these as presents to friends and family. If you have decorations already, reuse them or give them to a loving home! Things like plastic decorations are important to reuse until they have lived their life. It’s so much worse to throw them out and replace them when they can live in another home and not pollute an animal’s habitat.