Have a Greener Christmas - How to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
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Along with turkey, Christmas pudding and mince pies, there’s something else that’s synonymous with Christmas – endless binbags full of used wrapping paper, packaging, the remains of pulled crackers, and all sorts of plastic inlays and cardboard from selections boxes and chocolates.
And while some of it is of course unavoidable at this time of year, there are a few things we can do in the spirit of reducing, reusing and recycling to cut down on our festive waste – and all with very little effort.
Reduce Food Packaging Waste
Most of us are guilty of buying too much food at Christmas, and being seduced by festive packaging, particularly when it comes to sweets and children’s selection boxes. If you really want to cut down on packaging waste, consider making up your own confectionary hampers using a reusable basket or tin, and cramming it full of treats – not only will it cut down on plastic and paper, it will almost certainly work out cheaper gram for gram too (and you can omit the bars/chocs no one likes!).
Reduce Wrapped Waste
The thrill of a pile of beautifully wrapped Christmas presents under the tree is undeniable. Less thrilling though is the amount of paper you chuck in the bin after – a lot of which can’t even be recycled because of its shiny, metallic or glittery finish. There are plenty of ways to wrap gifts that don’t produce a pile of waste though. The most obvious one being don’t bin your used paper! Open presents carefully, and reuse the wrapping. You can also repurpose other paper to make unique and quirky wrap: pages from magazines, old maps, posters and even plain brown paper can be made to look stylish with a few festive embellishments. And of course, presents don’t have to be wrapped in paper at all – furoshiki is the Japanese art of using fabric to package presents, and is a beautiful, waste-free way to dress your gifts.
Reduce Christmas Card Waste
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Who doesn’t live for the clatter of the letterbox and the thud of cards on the mat throughout December? They are so lovely to receive, even if they can be hugely wasteful, paper-wise. You can recycle your cards after Christmas as long as you remove any decorative finishes such as glitter, plastic, or metallics. But instead of sending them to be recycled, why not reuse them yourself? The traditional way is to cut them down as gift tags for the following year, but you could also cut them up for decoupage projects, or for future seasonal card making. And of course, when buying our own cards, we can do our bit by choosing fully recycled (and recyclable) ones in the first place.
Make Your Own Christmas Crackers
All that paper and plastic tat make Christmas crackers perhaps the most wasteful of all festive fripperies, but you can still have your celebrations go off with a bang by buying from one of the many companies who now offer eco-friendly crackers made from sustainable, recyclable paper, with recycled components, and no plastic gifts. Or you could make your own, or buy reusable crackers which you can fill yourself each year with waste-free presents such as wildflower seeds, a gorgeous wrapped chocolate, or a little luxury such as a mini fragrance or small piece of jewellery.
Get a Rooted Tree
Is there a sadder post-Christmas sight than rows of bare-branched Christmas trees dumped alongside the bins and household rubbish? Despite being a natural product, Christmas trees still take years to decompose in landfill. One way to reduce this is to choose a living tree that you plant back out after Twelfth Night. Or, if that is not possible, chop your tree yourself and put it on your compost heap, or mulch it for use in your garden. Many local authorities will have their own Christmas tree recycling schemes too, and use them for mulching and chipping within the community.