Mince pies, cocktails, tree chocolates. One of the most delightful things about the Christmas period is that it’s socially acceptable, and pretty much expected, to have loads of everything.
But the idea of a more sustainable Christmas can seem impossible when you factor in the build up of non-recyclable cards and unwanted presents, not to mention the amount of delicious food that is often thrown away when the celebrations are finished.
A shocking survey from Sky Ocean Rescue revealed the true extent to Christmas waste heading straight for the bin.
While 84% of Brits are concerned that too much plastic packaging is used on gifts, one quarter of us (26%) admit to throwing away Christmas present packaging. In fact an estimated 200 million sheets of wrapping paper will also be thrown away this Christmas, which is enough to wrap around the earth’s circumference twice.
But, while 7 in 10 (69%) Brits find the amount of waste unacceptable, many are unsure how to recycle Christmas waste or cut down on consumption.
Here are some tips to how to make your Christmas more sustainable this year.
Use recyclable wrapping paper
Unfortunately, the pretty glitzy wrapping paper that is so popular at Christmas is not so great for the environment. The majority of the glitter is not biodegradable, and the shinier paper contains elements of non-recyclable plastic.
Why not use old newspaper or magazine paper, so that at the end of the festivities you can recycle the wrappings? Just be careful to take off any sellotape before.
For a festive touch, tie it all together with ribbon that can be reused year after year.
Make sure you know what can and can’t be recycled
It can be very difficult to know what packaging goes where once you’re clearing away the remnants of your Christmas celebrations.
Take a little bit of extra time to research what your council will and won’t accept to recycle, so that all of your separating efforts don’t go to waste.
Take reusable bags when shopping for gifts and food
We’ve all been caught out at Tesco without our Bag for Life. This year, cut your plastic pollution footprint by making sure you always have your trusty tote bags and reusable shopping bags on you for grocery and gift shopping alike.
Reuse Christmas leftovers
According to research by BIFFA, the food waste thrown away by the restaurant industry could power every single Christmas tree in the UK.
So when you’re cooking your festive feast extravaganza at home, have a plan in mind for any food that you can’t fit in your belly during Christmas dinner: whether it’s bubble and squeak, soup, or freezing it for another time.
Ditch plastic straws and cups
Follow the lead of an increasing amount of pubs in the UK and say no to single-use plastic this Christmas.
Former supermodel and environmental activist Jodie Kidd banned all of the plastic that she could when she bought her own pub.
She told HuffPost UK: “Over Christmas we have so much, even double the amount that we need. When it comes to plastic, we need to be so aware of the amount that we throw away during the festive season.”
Think about sustainable Christmas tree alternatives for next year.
Due to the plastic pollution that artificial Christmas trees cause if they are thrown away year on year and the deforestation issues surrounding real ones, some eco-warriors are taking it upon themselves to come up with amazing light-adorned alternatives, using ladders, wooden triangles, even egg cartons.
Kooky, we know. But also, very pretty.