5 ways to help the environment this Christmas

5 ways to help the environment this Christmas

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Christmas is an extra wasteful time of year; whilst we munch our way through an incredible 370 million mince pies each festive season in the UK, we will also throw away 230,000 tonnes of food over Christmas, which equates to us binning a whopping 74 million mince pies. These are just a few facts from many about waste at Christmas, which include shocking numbers related to wrapping paper, batteries, Christmas trees, fairy lights, and tonnes more.

So, just how can we tackle this excess waste, whilst still enjoying Christmas? Below are five easy ideas for being more eco-friendly this year…

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Don’t try to feed six people with food for 50

With extra food purchases comes extra packaging, so try your best to buy packaging free (such as local market fruit and veg), or in bulk if it’s a store cupboard essential that you know you will use before it goes off.

Only buy what you need. The temptation is to overbuy – what if you have a surprise guest, or your planned guests are left hungry after their meal? I have never heard of this happening! Plan your meal ahead of time, and buy only what is on your shopping list. Don’t be tempted by all the offers.

If you do accidentally purchase too much food, freeze what you can, so you can eat it at a later date. If you have items which won’t freeze, cook a meal with them, and freeze meal portions. Make a dish and take it round for a family member, friend or neighbour. Or you could contact your local homeless charity or a pay as you feel café.

Don’t overload guests’ plates. Offer second helpings, instead of finding yourself with eight plates of leftovers, which will all end up in the bin.

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Recycle all you can

Don’t get lazy ‘because it’s Christmas’ or because you’ve had a few festive drinks – ensure you make a special effort to sort your recycling, as you’ll have more of it.

Check with your local council for information on what they will and won’t accept in recycling bins – some won’t accept Christmas cards and wrapping paper. If this is the case, find somewhere that will, or use your card and paper for compost. You could make gift tags from old cards.

Take glass to your local bottle bank – don’t just bin it in your general waste. Bottle banks will be extra busy over the festive period, so perhaps store your bottles up in the garage until a quieter time.

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Use alternatives to wrapping paper

Instead of using traditional wrapping paper, of which we use 227,000 miles in the UK each Christmas, why not try wrapping your gifts using alternative items?

Ideas include: Fabric – a pretty scarf, a towel, a tea towel, a relevant t-shirt. A map – this could be random, or specific to the person. You could circle a location that is special to the recipient. Newspaper or a magazineA ‘bag for life’ – this will be received with extra thanks now the plastic bag charge is in place!

For further gift wrap ideas, this article is useful.

Consider your Christmas tree

Think about which tree type is best for you: real or fake. Overall, ‘real’ trees work out better for the environment, as artificial trees are non-recyclable and therefore end up in landfill or incinerated. If you do opt for a real tree, make sure you recycle it. You can find numerous options for what to do with your tree after Christmas, here.

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Give gifts people want

After Christmas, the UK is left with an astonishing amount of unwanted gifts, totalling £700m! Does your Grandma really want that Game of Thrones box set? Only buy gifts you know are wanted – don’t buy gifts for the sake of it, it’s just a waste.The best way to do this is to ask people what they would like for Christmas. If you don’t want to do this, try making something by hand instead – their favourite cookies or cakes, perhaps.

Guest blog by Andy Jones of Business Waste.Trade

 

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