Christmas can be a truly magical time of the year, but it can also be the most wasteful. In the UK we create 30% more waste than normal during the festive period, including two million turkeys and six million Christmas trees! To help you cut back on waste this year and make Christmas kinder on our environment, here are some tips you can use.
#1. Buy less or give experiences
How many unwanted presents do you still have at the back of your cupboards from last year? Don’t make that someone else’s reality and simply buy less this Christmas. Regifting has always been a great way to give your unwanted presents a second chance. You could even go completely present-free, instead opting for time spent together like going for a wintery morning walk in the countryside or gifting memorable experiences, like a show!
#2. Use recycled paper for wrapping presents
Instead of buying wrapping paper just for it to be ripped up and thrown away (not even recycled most of the time), get creative by wrapping your gifts in reused materials. You can use old newspapers, magazines or even wrapping paper saved from the year before.
#3. Sellotape sucks, why not try these alternatives...
But how do I keep it all together without plastic tape, you ask? Easy! You can use natural options like ribbon or twine which your recipient can keep reusing. Or go completely zero waste by using string or pieces of fabric that you have lying around. There is also the option of recyclable paper tape, like this one from Eco Craft.
#4. Upcycle Christmas cards
Even though they are made of recyclable materials, if your Christmas card has glitter or decorations on it, sadly it can’t be recycled. You can always remove the embellishments, like ribbons and reuse these for crafts with kids, or cut off the message on the back section and use the front as a gift tag next year. Make sure the cards you send are recyclable or consider sending an e-card instead.
#5. Make your decorations last
The easiest way to reduce wasteful Christmas decorations is to reuse the decorations you already have. If you’re replacing broken decorations or celebrating Christmas in your new home choose decorations that you can keep for years to come like handmade wooden ornaments. On a budget? Then get creative with upcycled light bulbs instead of plastic baubles, and garlands made out of those old Christmas cards.
#6. Trees are for life, not just for Christmas
With 6 million Christmas Trees being thrown on the compost heap last year, a great alternative could be to buy a potted tree, replanting it after Christmas and bringing it back inside the next year. Not green-fingered? There’s always the option of renting a tree from places like loveachristmastree.co.uk
#7. Plan your food shop
Write a list of what you plan to buy so you can avoid purchasing things you don’t need that might go to waste. Also, remember to bring along your reusable shopping bag and your BeeBee beeswax food wraps (beebeewraps.com) so save unnecessary packaging from ending up in the landfill.
#8. Make a menu, and stick to it
With UK households throwing away more than 4 million tonnes of perfectly edible food during December, consider what you’re going to need by planning your meals ahead. That way you will only buy what will be used, saving food waste and your bank account. Win-Win.
#9. Turn your leftovers into a tasty treats
Maybe your menu didn’t quite go to plan or your guests weren’t as hungry as you’d hoped. That doesn’t mean your uneaten food has to go to waste. BBC Good Food has a variety of great recipes for all your leftovers from Refried Roasties and Cheese Board Macaroni to Morrocan-spiced Turkey Pie and Bombay Potato Omelette. Yum!
#10. Avoid disposable dinnerware
Nobody wants to do the dishes after that big Christmas Do, so a lot of us resort to disposable dinnerware, but this just ends up in landfill and can take hundreds of years to break down. One great way to avoid this is simply asking your guests to bring their own. Understandably for some, this is a faux pas so if you must have disposables make sure they are compostable, like these lovely bamboo and palm leaf options from Litter Cherry.
Also, be sure to check out Harfi for their Definitive Ethical Christmas Gift Guide - a list of some of their favourite ethically sourced products from independent brands that care about the planet!