Christmas is a time when we let ourselves break free from the restraints we usually put on ourselves, spending more, eating more and drinking more than the rest of the year and enjoying every minute of it. Unfortunately though the guilt of all the excess waste generated during the festive season can take the shine off our celebrations, so here’s our guide to help you reduce your waste this Christmas.
Food and Drink Waste
Rather than just buying everything you can think of in a mad frenzy, it can help to plan out your celebratory meals ahead of time. Writing out a shopping list and sorting out your freezer space before shopping will help you stick to the plan. Take into account how many people need feeding and try to be at least reasonably realistic about how much food they could possibly eat – and shop accordingly. Choose foods that lend themselves well to being used in other recipes so that any leftovers can be used up over the following days rather than thrown away.
When buying fresh foods you can also reduce the amount of packaging waste by choosing loose fruits and vegetables rather than pre-packaged ones. When this isn’t an option, packaging that can be recycled is preferable. During the festive season we throw away around 30% more food and drinks tins, glass jars and bottles, paper and cardboard, so ensuring that everything is recyclable (and actually recycling it) can really make a difference.
Shopping and Gift Giving
We’re all much better at remembering to take along our own re-usable carrier bags with us when shopping since the 5p charge for plastic bags was implemented. It’s still easy though to underestimate how many bags we’ll need at this time of year, as we’ll often spot something we hadn’t originally intended to buy when we’re out shopping, so it’s always a good idea to take extra bags with you.
When it comes to wrapping the gifts we’ve bought, this can also generate a huge amount of waste. Try to choose wrapping paper and cards that can be recycled (most foil and shiny laminated giftwrap can’t be). If possible recycle old wrapping paper and ribbon, or think of alternative ways of wrapping gifts, such as wrapping a present in a scarf or presenting it in a tote bag that will be reused rather than thrown away. Or give presents that don’t need wrapping, such as gift certificates or experiences.
An artificial tree that can be reused every year is much less wasteful than a real tree, but if Christmas just doesn’t feel the same to you without a real Christmas tree, recycle your tree at a Household Waste Recycling Centre if possible (where it will be turned into compost) or use it for firewood.
None of these tips are particularly onerous, but each one will make a difference to the amount of waste you generate at Christmas – and the clear conscience you’ll gain in the process will help you enjoy the festivities even more!