a woman holding a present wrapped in sustainable wrapping

Reduce your waste at Christmas

It’s that time of year again, Christmas comes round so quickly doesn’t it.  I do love this time or year but what I don’t love about it is all the waste.  From all the sparkly bright glittery decorations to the wrapping to the food wasted.

Did you know that in the UK we will use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year, most of which ends up in our bins and cannot be recycled.  That’s four rolls or wrapping paper per household.  Wild right?

With that in mind I’ve got some top tips for you to keep your Christmas as sustainable, yet enjoyable this year.

Christmas Trees – I could well be a little late on this one as I’m sure everyone has theirs up by now… however, the real vs fake debate rears it’s head every year and as with everything sustainable it’s not as simple as one is better than the other.   It depends on where you get them from and how you use them.

If you’re a real tree lover, I mean, who isn’t eh?, the smell, the freshness…. Just the tidy up and dropping pins are not great eh.  Do you know what would make it even more enjoyable? Sourcing a sustainable tree that has either been cut from FSC Certified forests or better still, look at getting a potted tree.  These can come from many different sources.  Grown potted trees are meant to be better than dug up trees who have had trauma to their roots however, this is only hearsay and I have no experience of it but please do bear this in mind.  Another fab initiative are companies who will take the tree back from you when you’re finished and replant it.  Then the next year they will redeliver the same tree for you to use again.  Fabulous right?  But not cheap I imagine.  When it gets to over 7 foot they are replanted and left to grow as they would naturally.  I love love love this idea but again, there’s carbon footprint at drop off, pick up and redelivery to take into account too.

So many options for real trees.  Just make sure it’s as kind to the tree and earth as you can possibly make it for your budget.

Fake trees – they have their plus points too.  You don’t need to think about it too much each year, just bring it down from the loft or cupboard that you keep it in and hey presto, it’s done.  Minimal mess and minimal fuss.  The downside? Well, According to the Carbon Trust, a two metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg, more than ten times that of a real tree that’s burned after Christmas. In other words, you’d need to re-use an artificial tree 10 times to negate its carbon footprint, yet it’s estimated that fake trees are used only four time.  Even when they are of the fab quality that they are these days.

This doesn’t all take into account the source of the tree though so I’ll go back to my comments above, source is key.

If you’re in it for the long haul and fake is for you, go for it, just make sure you take care of it and use it for the rest of it’s days.

Presents and gifts – quality over quantity always.  There’s no point in panic buying tat that people don’t want, it’ll be wasted and never used.   Have a think about the person, find out what they want – asking always helps.  What are their interests and loves?

If you’re buying for adults, experience presents are always a good idea.  Subscriptions to their favourite magazine or online patreon account.  Don’t discount second hand either.  With amazing clothing items on debop and ebay you can get that must have item at a fraction of the price whilst also being kind to the earth.

There’s always our dental as well of course 😊 everyone always needs floss and a toothbrush…

If you’re buying for children – books are a fab way of keeping the plastic down and also can be used year on year and even handed down to siblings, cousins and friends.   Experience presents are good too, depending on age and appreciation of course.  A yearly membership to your local aquarium or play centre.  Even film tickets for the older ones as well.  Think about what they love and their hobbies then have a google search on what experiences are around that.  Have they always wanted a specific thing like horse riding lessons or to visit somewhere special?

Toys, now I have a 3 year old and 7 year old so don’t get me wrong, I will also be buying them toys.  Some of which are plastic tat… or plastic at least.  Lego is the go to in our house.  It’s everywhere and has been requested for this year too.  The key with the toy conundrum is to get it local.  Wherever possible always shop local.  Not only to try and keep the carbon footprint low but to support small businesses like ourselves.  Your custom, especially this year, is much much needed.  Your purchases are our lifeline.   Literally.

Amazon can’t always be avoided unfortunately, I’m not naïve enough to believe that everyone is able to shop local.  Monetarily, for convenience or you may live somewhere that literally doesn’t have the type of things you need or the shops you want.  Kindle Fire’s are amazing and are only available from Amazon as an Amazon product so there’s that too.

Clothing is always good for children too, it can keep their wardrobe topped up with what they need for 6 months so that you don’t need to buy any just because as well.  If you’re able, shop local and second hand too.

In our house Father Christmas supplies the stockings and all the presents are from us.  With the widening divide between those who get all the stuff and those who get very little I’m very mindful to keep it simple and as low key as possible with the children in our house. 

Gift wrapping – as mentioned above, we are using far far too much non-recyclable, non-sustainably sourced wrapping paper.  Did you know if you crumple up wrapping paper and it stays crumpled it can be recycled? If it doesn’t then it’s non-recyclable.  Sad but true, most papers uncrumple.

You can make presents look super cool with brown wrapping paper.  Paint them with imprints or simply adorn them with ribbons and dried oranges (yeah it’s a thing, I’m giving it a go this year).  Recycle old gift bags and wrapping if you’ve got them.

Christmas Dinner – An estimated 4.2 million Christmas dinners are wasted across the UK. 

Whilst the festivities for most of us will be covid tier low key this year, we will still buy too much and waste food.  One way to avoid this is to make a list of what you need and stick to it, going slightly over just incase, but not too much.  We all love a left over so make sure what you’re using them up in the days after Christmas, freezing what you can if you can as well. 

Buy veg loose to cut down on the packaging and plastic.  Oddbox are doing a fab Christmas box this year, I’m looking forward to receiving mine!  Local butchers and fruit and veg shops are the way forward too. 

Perhaps if you have too much, see if a neighbour especially if they’ve been on their own, would want any.  Make sure it’s all covid above board of course.  If anyone in your household has symptoms or is isolating then definitely do not give any of your food to anyone.

Donate any unopened food if you aren’t going to use it within it’s sell by date as well.  Or even if you would, if you can spare it then donate it to your local food bank to help others that would need it.

Above all, stay safe, social distance, wear a mask and enjoy time with your family.  Christmas may be low key but it’ll still be fabulous.

Jayne x

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