How To Enjoy Christmas Without Ruining The Environment – A Guide To Going Plastic-Free

A few small changes can make a big difference.

Christmas might be the most wonderful time of the year (to borrow a popular lyric), but it’s also one of the most wasteful – 70 million unwanted Christmas presents will be gifted, 100 million rolls of wrapping paper will be chucked, and millions of plates of festive food will end up in the bin.

If you’re hoping to make the season a little more eco-friendly, take note of these small changes that’ll reduce your impact on the environment this Christmas.

fcafotodigital via Getty Images

Opt For Brown Wrapping Paper (And Ditch The Glitter)

Shiny paper with a glittery pattern might look the part but, more often than not, it won’t be recyclable – wrapping paper is often coated with plastic for durability, meaning it could stick around on the planet for a long time after the festivities have ended.

Opt for uncoated papers made from recycled materials, or try Recycle Now’s wrapping paper test – “if it scrunches, it can be recycled”. Another option is to decorate brown paper with stamps and string – and if you can’t forgo the glitz, use biodegradable glitter.

Remove ribbons, sellotape, and bows before recycling as these can’t be processed.

Turn Your Leftovers Into Tasty Dishes

Creative dishes can be whipped up from leftover Christmas dinner ingredients – and even if you’ve eaten the entire turkey, the bones can still be used to make stock.

For leftover veg and potatoes, Love Food Hate Waste suggests chopping it up into a bubble and squeak feast. In fact, pretty much anything savoury can be added to this – including turkey, and cheese from the cheeseboard.

Turn leftover sprouts into a gratin to upgrade the often unloved Christmas dinner staple. Make a white sauce and add fried onions, grated cheese, and chopped bacon or pancetta. Arrange your sprouts in a dish and pour over the sauce, then cook at 180C for about 25 minutes.

BBC Good Food recommends transforming Christmas pudding leftovers into a strudel by wrapping it in filo pastry and baking in the oven, before serving with brandy butter or hot custard.

Zolotaosen via Getty Images

Make Your Own Wreath And Tree Decorations

Mega fans will have had their Christmas tree up for weeks but if you haven’t yet, have a go at making decorations instead of buying new ones. Create shapes to hang from your tree using salt dough, or dry and hang slices of citrus fruits for a more natural look.

Those autumn leaves and pine cones you haven’t raked up outside don’t need to go to waste either, as you can dry, decorate, and give them new life as table decorations.

And if you want to go full-on festive, make your own wreath to hang proudly on your front door. Use our brilliant step-by-step guide here.

Choose Loose Fruit And Vegetables (And Buy Local Where You Can)

Walk into any supermarket and you’ll be confronted with rows of unnecessary packaging. According to a recent Greenpeace survey, the UK’s top 10 supermarkets are “failing to take bold enough action on plastic pollution”.

Avoid packaged fruit and veg and choose loose options where possible, recommends the campaign group. Greenpeace also suggests piling the pressure on retailers to encourage them to “act faster” when it comes to developing sustainable packaging alternatives by sharing photos of over-packaged festive products online with the hashtag #PointlessPlastic.

Also, opt for local suppliers for meat, fruit, veg and dairy where you can, as it’ll help cut down on air miles as well as packaging.