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Christmas tends to involve a lot of eating, drinking and being merry- society encourages us to go out there and have fun, spoil our loved ones and spend lots of money. While there are many positive things about Christmas, this over indulgent mentality unfortunately does mean a LOT of waste is produced over the festive period.
Not only is it not ideal from a moral standpoint (we throw things away when some people are going without) but it’s also bad for the planet. Here are some of the ways you can enjoy a more sustainable Christmas and keep your waste down.
Plan out your food
One of the biggest ways we waste at Christmas is by purchasing more food than we can use. It’s tempting to want to whizz round the supermarket and pick up lots of delicious goodies, but go without a plan and you’ll waste a whole lot of money and will likely not get through half of your haul in time.
Plan out the meals you’ll be eating, if you’ll be hosting parties and things then work out what you’ll need based on the guests coming rather than just blindly buying far too much. It’s especially important when it comes to fresh and chilled items as they just won’t keep for long.
With tinned or frozen food it’s not as much as an issue if you’re able to keep what you don’t use and then consume it later on in the new year. If you’ve already bought too much and are wondering what to do with things like excess fruits and vegetables so they don’t go to waste, consider cooking up pies or casseroles and putting them in the freezer to use later.
Think about presents
Giving gifts at Christmas is often one of the highlights, there’s nothing nicer than showing someone you care with a well thought out present you know they’ll love. However, since Christmas has become so commercialised, we’re forced into buying gifts for all kinds of people these days from neighbours to teachers as we’re told it’s the festive thing to do. And buying for someone you don’t know that well can lead to some big misses- gifts that aren’t needed or wanted and can end up being wasted and thrown away.
If you want to give gifts, think carefully- some home baked cookies or cupcakes will go down well as token gifts for most people and you avoid spending lots of money on something unwanted.
When it comes to kids, plastic toys are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to them ending up in landfill. Consider sustainable toys like these wooden ones from Le Toy Van, or give alternative gifts such as experience days instead of items that will later get thrown away and take thousands of years to break down.
Don’t just buy gifts for the sake of it, spend time thinking about what the person would want or need. Don’t be tempted to buy into commercialism and add to the numerous amount of wasted gifts that will be in the bin by January.
Recycle your wrapping paper
Paper is recyclable which is good, however this is only relevant if you’re actually recycling it. There’s a lot of cleanup to get through on Christmas day, but spend a little time making sure it’s going into the correct bin. The same applies to gift bags, Christmas cards and cardboard boxes from toys and gifts too. If they’re not recycled they’ll end up in landfills and incinerators and add to the already massive amounts of extra waste that are produced at this time of year.
Brown parcel paper can be recycled, so you could try using that instead, and you can even decorate it yourself with drawings or ink stamps.
If you wanted to be even more eco friendly, consider not using wrapping paper at all. Try wrapping with fabric, or reusable tote bags.
Make your own recyclable decorations
If you’re going to spend money on Christmas decorations, invest in good ones that you plan on keeping and using year after year. If you’re going to buy inexpensive baubles and things that you replace every few years, why not consider making your own?
Old fashioned decorations are fun to make with kids- salt dough decorations or strings of popcorn or paper chains for the tree. You can recycle them after Christmas and won’t end up adding more plastic to landfill.
If you do have decorations you no longer want, perhaps you change your colour scheme every year, give them away to someone else who will use them. It saves them from having to buy more, and they’ll get many years of use out of them.
Donate to charity
Finally, if you do end up with things you don’t want or need after Christmas, don’t just throw them in the bin. Food items which are still in date can be given to food banks. Unwanted gifts can be given to charity shops, they’ll be bought by someone who will use them and the money raised goes to a good cause.
Maybe after lots of new items have come into your home, you need to make some space by getting rid of the old. Giving to friends, donating to charity, selling them or giving them away on sites like Facebook Marketplace allows someone else to get use out of the items.
Even if you’ve already made too many purchases this year and it’s too late to put any of this into practice, it’s always something you can consider for next year. We all know the importance of helping the planet, reducing our carbon footprint and doing what we can to keep waste down. And with Christmas being such a commercial and waste- producing time of year, it’s the perfect time to put it into practice.