Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year but because of it, December is also the month when we produce the most waste.
Over the festive period, 30% more rubbish is produced which is equal to an extra three million tonnes.
From 500 tonnes of lights and eight million trees to 108 million rolls of wrapping paper and £42 million worth of unwanted gifts – we really do throw away huge amounts in the UK at the end of every year and that’s not to mention the food and packaging.
However, many of us are already trying to live more sustainably – especially those who have recently watched David Attenborough’s new documentary ‘A Life on Our Planet.’ So, how do we continue to cut the waste during the most wasteful time of year?
Only buy the food you really need
It’s tempting to fill your trolley every time you go to the supermarket in the lead up to Christmas, there are so many deals after all. But, did you know that as a country we throw away 54 million platefuls of food during the festive period? Then there’s the packaging that it is wrapped in – we all love a mince pie during December but that small piece of aluminium that they are wrapped in adds up to 175 tonnes.
So, think carefully about exactly what you need, create a list, stick to it and don’t be sucked into deals for food that will only end up in the bin.
When you buy a gift, there is a chance that by January, it will have been put to the back of the cupboard and forgotten about, if not thrown away.
Rather than buying something they don’t need and potentially won’t use – why not buy an experience. Something that will create memories that last far longer than that gift that is wrapped in plastic – but less than the time it would take to decompose once it ends up in landfill (which is up to 1000 years by the way!) It could be something that you and the recipient can look forward to doing together in January.
Forget the wrapping paper
You won’t need it anyway if you are gifting your loved one an experience, but for those other gifts, forget the wrapping paper because it’s often not recyclable – especially those covered in glitter. This doesn’t mean you can’t give them something to open. You could use brown paper, wrap it up with natural twine and finish it off with a sprig of holly or pine tree. It will look just as good but be far better for the environment.
Buy a reusable advent calendar
Whether it’s for your kids or yourself, invest in a reusable advent calendar that can be used year after year. In 2019, there were around 16.5 million advent calendars according to BusinessWaste – each with single-use plastic. Choose a reusable one instead and not only are you cutting down on all that plastic, you can also fill it with whatever you wish. Chocolate for the children and miniature bottles of gin for you? Why not, it’s Christmas!
Make your own crackers
Like wrapping paper, crackers often contain a plastic coating that can’t be recycled. Then there’s the gift inside, do you ever actually use it or does it end up in the bin as the table is cleared? This year, use brown paper to make your own. You can write your favourite jokes down to go inside or swap them out for a special Christmas message. Alongside it, pick an eco-friendly gift to pop inside, that the recipient will actually appreciate.
Other changes you could make this year include:
- Choose wine with a cork – the plastic in screw tops isn’t recyclable while the cork oak is sustainable.
- Choose wooden toys over plastic ones and browse charity shops for these – you’ll find some great deals and little ones won’t know the difference!
- Add a personal touch this Christmas and make your own decorations instead of purchasing more.
- Don’t like a gift and know you won’t use it? Keep it to regift – just remember who gave it to you to save any red faces.
- Send an eCard instead of a paper card
- Get reusable produce bags for purchasing your Christmas veg.
- Invest in plastic-free storage containers for those leftovers – also helping to ensure the food gets eaten and not thrown out.
Remember, a few small changes could make a huge difference. So, cut your own waste this Christmas and help to reduce that 3 million tonnes that ends up in landfills each year.