Christmas may be a wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most wasteful, creating a rise in the volume of waste materials being produced and disposed of. Much of this (plastic being one of the worst offenders), is unfortunately sent to landfill or ends up in our oceans, where it damages the environment. This year I have been making a big effort to minimise plastic and reduce waste over the Christmas period and wanted to share my top tips with you on how to do this.
You may think all Christmas cards can be recycled, but in fact only a small amount actually are. Many cards are embellished with glitter and gold foil which is made from plastic. Also the majority of high street Christmas cards are wrapped in plastic film - creating more waste for landfill. When looking for cards opt for those without a plastic lining and made with FSC certified paper, like this beautiful set I bought this year.
Gift wrap is another misleading material, as actually most of it ends up in landfill due the plastic content in it. Why not do things a bit differently this year and opt for the natural look by using kraft paper. You can get creative by decorating with string and natural materials - check out our Eco Gifting board on Pinterest for inspiration! If you would prefer something more traditional, there are many recyclable and recycled paper wrap with lovely Christmas patterns, like this one from Ecovibe.
This year why not try being vocal to your friends and family about wanting only sustainable gifts, to avoid any unwanted and unethical gifts. You could also give some ideas of things you might like instead. You may feel cheeky doing this, but I can promise you most people will be grateful for the pointers so they know they are getting you something worthwhile. You may also have a positive influence on them by getting them thinking about the environment more. If you still get any unwanted gifts, rather than throwing them away or shoving them under the kitchen sink, try donating them to charity or gifting them to someone else who would appreciate it.
Rather than buying cheap plastic decorations each year, like tinsel and plastic baubles, try investing in some good quality natural decorations which will last you for many years to come. This year we bought a selection of beautiful handmade pieces from independent makers including wooden hanging stars, hand painted wooden figures and crochet stars. Not only do they look both traditional and beautiful, we also know we will have them for many, many years. We also went to a local craft fair and bought a wreath and table decorations made from natural materials. You could even get creative and try making your own!
Food is one of the largest sources of waste in the UK over the Christmas period, with reportedly more than 74 million mince pies alone being thrown away each year. Planning is key at Christmas, and being organised can help you to save time, money and waste less food. Write a list and plan what you will be eating each day over the holidays, and how many people there will be. When it comes to leftovers, a little creative thinking can turn unwanted extras into tasty new meals rather than throwing them away. If you over purchase food, why not donate some of it to a local food bank or homeless shelter.