How to have a sustainable Christmas
We all look forward to Christmas morning, the opening of presents, the copious amount of food on the dining room table and overflowing snacks in the kitchen, but have you really thought about how much waste this all produces every year?
According to Biffa, the UK creates 30 per cent more waste than usual over the festive period, throwing away more than 277,000 miles of wrapping paper – that’s enough to stretch to the moon!
Households will use more than 300,000 tonnes of card and send over 100 million bags of rubbish to landfill. That’s a huge amount!
The good news is more people are beginning to wise up and are starting to become greener as both the media and recent documentaries have shone a spotlight on recycling issues.
Did you know that 41% of us will feel guilty about the waste we will be producing at Christmas? And one in four households is expecting to create 5 or more bags of rubbish.
So what can we do to reduce all this waste?
Use recyclable gift wrapping
A huge amount of people are unsure whether or not their gift wrap is recyclable so more often than not they just throw it away. The shiny kind of gift wrap are often plastic based with glitter or foil in them and frequently covered in tape and non-recyclable gift tags. Instead of reaching for the fancy paper, opt for traditional brown paper and make it look fancy by using some recyclable ribbon. You could even try reusing gift bags as an alternative option.
Purchase green gifts
Browse your local charity shops for gifts such as books and games. They have special sections for Christmas related items. You could even re-purpose a gift you haven’t used (as long as it’s in date and good condition)
If you prefer to purchase new, always check if a product is environmentally friendly by looking out for established logos such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance.
Making Christmas decorations can be fun. A personal touch is lovely to receive so why not make your own items from recyclable materials. Use spare craft textiles and make a wreath or a tree decoration for your family members. Go forage in the garden or your local woodland, a family walk could be both good for you and the environment.
Plan your meals
One of the easiest ways to reduce your food wastage is to plan your meals. Buy food loose that doesn’t have any plastic packaging. Did you know, nearly two million turkeys are thrown away every Christmas? It is often used in sandwiches for a few days afterwards, but have you thought about using it in a curry on Boxing day? By planning your meals, you should be able to use up what you buy and save on any waste from buying extra food. If you can, freeze your leftovers and anything you can’t freeze, put on a compost heap. Don’t forget your recycle bags too, carrier bags take around 1,000 years to degrade!
Use LED lighting
Traditional bulbs use a lot of energy. By switching to LED lights, they will last much longer and use less energy than the traditional bulb does. Be sure to only turn them on when you need to by using a timer so they only come on when it gets dark.
Opt for electronic Christmas cards. There are plenty of ways online in which to do this. Think of all the trees we could save if everyone did this! If you preferred to have the real thing, buy some recycled cards. These can be put in your recycling bin or you can take them to your local recycling centre yourself. Some stores like M&S have collection points for Christmas cards. The Woodland Trust then plants new trees in return for the recycled cards. If you visit their website and tell them you’re going to recycle, you can even have a say on where the new trees are planted.
Buy a real Christmas Tree
After Christmas, you can take these to a local recycling centre where it will be shredded or composted and spread over local parks and other green spaces.
Recycle your jars and bottles
Once you’ve finished your pickled onions and cranberry sauce, recycle the jars or reuse them and turn them into homemade jam jars or create something special. With your bottles, you can take these to your local recycling centre or take the labels off and pop some lights in for a cosy look. There are plenty of ideas online!
Always recycle as much as you can. Reusing items is a great way of reducing waste. When having your pre-Christmas clear out, donate any unwanted items to charity and re-gift where possible. Don’t forget to put your rubbish out when it’s due to be collected so it doesn’t pile up.
Enjoy Christmas and think green!