The Christmas period is one of the most exciting parts of the year for millions of people across the world. Unfortunately, during this period, around 30% more waste is generated than normal. In such a time of giving, we should look for more ways to give back to the planet and take steps to be more sustainable with how we manage waste prevention this year. One of our main goals is to strive towards a waste free Christmas. Here are 12 ways of preventing waste we have come up with for this Christmas:
1. Christmas Cards
One of the best ways to connect with loved ones is by sending them a Christmas Card. Each year, during the festive period, nearly 1 billion Christmas cards are thrown away. It would take approximately 33 million trees to produce this amount of cards. By switching to cards made from recycled card and making homemade cards, we can ensure a lower carbon footprint as recycled card is less resource intensive to create than from new.
By making sure we keep recycling our Christmas cards, it allows us to sustainably continue the tradition without harming the environment.
2. Christmas Trees
Christmas trees are all part of the holiday tradition, being the centerpiece of homes across the world. Sadly, the life cycle of these trees is short when they are replaced year on year. Artificial Christmas trees can have a lower carbon footprint than a regular Christmas tree when used over a long period (10 years+) and come with amazing lights and designs. Buying real Christmas trees from sustainable suppliers ensures that each tree is replenished for the coming years.
3. Single use decorations
Christmas decorations are amazing and bring out the festive spirit in us all. That’s why it’s so important for us to use decorations that last. Single use decorations contribute to the growing plastic pollution we face and purchasing re-usable decorations will not only help the planet, but also keep houses looking festive year after year!
4. Gift Wrapping
Wrapping paper is important for hiding away everyone’s presents until Christmas day. Making sure that we use recyclable Christmas wrapping paper and avoiding plastic and foil where possible, we can then hide our presents the sustainable way. It even gives us the opportunity to be really creative and use common items such as old newspapers and magazines as wrapping!
Gifts are a staple of the festive season. One of the hardest parts about giving gifts is finding the perfect one. A big issue we have is people receiving gifts they do not want and those gifts going to waste. 33 million Brits receive a gift they do not want, with up to 60% being thrown away. Instead of getting our friends and family gifts they may use only once and go to waste, we could instead look to gift day to day items such as coffee mugs, reusable straws or even a trendy tote bag which are all excellent gifts and very environmentally friendly.
6. Experience Gifts
Instead of a physical gift, why not make it extra special and gift someone an experience. Not only avoiding waste but helping to create memories. Gift cards to go to the zoo or a safari are great examples of experiences which can support great causes!
7. Plastic Toys
At Christmas, plastic toys are one of the most common gift items for children. Up to 80% of these toys will end up in incinerators, landfill or the ocean which is toxic for the environment. There are many alternatives to these plastic toys. Wooden toys and teddy bears made primarily using cloth and wool are not only more sustainable and timeless but are a more durable alternative to typical plastic toys.
8. Christmas Dinner
We all love our big festive feasts once a year where we get to cook for all of our friends and family. A disproportionate chunk of the UK’s 4.5 million tonnes of food waste comes during the holiday season. One of the best ways to combat this is by ensuring we cook the right amount of food for each guest and look up creative ways to use the leftovers. Christmas dinner can be just as great the next day! Another issue we face is large quantities of oil being poured down drains causing blockages. To solve this, we can store and re-use oils and instead of putting them down the drain, we can pour oils into containers and either take them to local recycling centers where they can be recycled or discard them in their containers.
9. Christmas Crackers
At family gatherings, one of the best moments is finally beating someone at pulling the Christmas Cracker and getting the prize. These crackers typically have lots of mini-plastic toys and glitter which are difficult to recycle and usually end up in landfill due to being single-use novelty items. By making your own Christmas crackers from recycled card or buying sustainably made ones, they become more creative, fun and less harmful for the environment.
10. Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights light up our homes and put our festivity on full display. As we know lights can use a lot of energy in our homes. Christmas lights especially older models consume a lot of power which causes higher rates of carbon emissions. We can solve this by updating our Christmas lights to LED’s which are incredibly energy efficient and look even better!
11. Advent Calendars
It’s the start of December, we all love an advent calendar to kickstart the season with chocolates to countdown for Christmas. Calendars are typically made from cardboard with a foil lining protecting the chocolates. However, some of these calendars are very difficult to recycle. In the UK, up to 16.5 million calendars contain single use plastics. Buying sustainable cardboard only calendars and making sure recyclable material is separated from non-recyclable is key in reducing waste.
12. Travelling for the Holidays
Seeing families is one of the main highlights of this time of year. Everyone coming together from all over the world to re-connect is special. One of the ways waste is produced by people travelling to see family is the increase in carbon emissions from fuel consumption. One of the ways to navigate this, is to use public transport where available and walk to nearby family gatherings instead of driving.