It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

A time for giving, receiving…and generating mountains of waste!

As we break for the festive holiday, we thought we’d share 10 ways to create a more circular Christmas and show a little extra care for the environment during the season of celebration.

Christmas is a time for mega-waste in the UK.

Did you know that…

300,000 tonnes of card packaging is used at Christmas; enough to cover London’s Big Ben, almost 260,000 times

1 billion cards end up in the waste bin

The amount of wrapping paper used for presents is enough to wrap around the equator 9 times

6 million Christmas trees are discarded every year

250 tonnes of Christmas trees are thrown away after Christmas

13, 350 tonnes of glass are thrown out in the UK after Christmas.

But Christmas doesn’t have to be a burden on the planet. With a little effort and imagination, we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season and here are 10 ways to create a more circular Christmas in 2018.

1. Buy items with less packaging

It’s time to get savvy in the supermarket and stop buying products which are excessively packaged. You’re only going to unwrap them and throw all that excess packaging in the bin. What’s the point in that?

2. Choose gifts made from recycled sources

Many individuals and small businesses have developed great products using recycled materials. Supporting these businesses helps reduce the waste stream while promoting the concept of making best use of available materials. Here are some examples for you to consider.

A recycled tyre picture frame is just one example of how old materials can be re purposed and still look good!

3. Give ‘Battery-Free’ Gifts

Just imagine the number of battery operated toys, games and devices that are gifted each and every Christmas. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard. Even rechargeable batteries find their way into the waste stream eventually. How about traditional board games? Or outdoor activity sets or sports equipment? Gets you out and about in the fresh air for hours of fun, no batteries required.   

Get active with outdoorsy gifts and sports equipment, no batteries required.

4. “Used” Gifts

It’s time to look at “used” in a new light. Giving a used gift was once out of the question – it made the gift-giver feel cheap. And no one wants to risk offending the recipient. But used gifts are the kindest of all to the environment, as no new energy or resources are expended.

Today there are many areas where used items can be appropriate as gifts, and the list grows with the steady accumulation of goods in our consumer society. Used computers, for example, can be refurbished and upgraded. Or consider vintage clothing, books, DVDs and CDs, bikes, sports equipment, tools, cameras, children’s toys and clothes. Used musical instruments are especially appropriate as they hold their value and appeal for a long time.

Used gifts such as musical instruments are the kindest to the environment and can still have a lot of appeal to the receiver

5. Use recycled paper for present wrapping

Instead of buying more and more wrapping paper from the shops, only for it to be ripped up and thrown in the bin, get creative and use old newspapers, magazines or left over brown paper for wrapping. Or find re-usable items such a fine quality bag or wicker basket to show off your gifts.

Use old newspapers, magazines and left over brown paper for low impact wrapping

6. ‘Re-gifting’ is Okay 

There’s always discussion about the etiquette behind the trend to ‘re-gift’, that is, to pass on a gift you received but do not need. What’s to discuss? Re-gifting makes perfect sense. If you receive something you really don’t need, look for ways you can reuse this gift by passing it on to someone who can use it. Of course, re-gifting needs to be done with care so as not to offend the original giver, but keeping a gift you don’t need is wasteful. Freecycle is a free network where users can advertise things they no longer want for others to take free of charge. So instead of disposing of unwanted items, you can give them a new home.

7. Choose a live tree

Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice. Plastic trees are made of petroleum products and use up resources in both the manufacture and shipping. While artificial trees theoretically last forever, research shows that they are typically discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfills, where their plastic content makes them last forever.

Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms, that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and around ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution. Live trees also smell like Christmas!

Live trees are best … and they smell great!

8. Home composting

This Christmas, instead of throwing all your vegetable peelings in the bin, put them to good use and turn them into compost. It’s great for your garden and even better for the environment. Egg boxes, scrunched up newspapers, tea bags, fruit scraps and veggie peelings can all be composted. Your garden will never have looked so good!

Compost all your Christmas vegetable peelings and much more.

9. Clothes swap

Instead of perusing the aisles for a festive party dress and spending lots of money on something you’ll probably only wear once, why not do a clothes swap with friends? That way, the Christmas dress you wore to last year’s party won’t go to waste hanging there in your wardrobe, and you’ll also save money!

10. Give old furniture a good home

Christmas is a time when we get lots of new things, but what about the old stuff? If you’re getting rid of any household equipment or furniture, contact a furniture reuse organisation like The British Heart Foundation, that way your old sofa can be used and loved by someone else and you’ll be supporting a worthy cause.

Find a good home for your old furniture.

The recent launch of DEFRA’s Waste Prevention Programme, produced in partnership with WRAP, is meant to instruct consumers and industry on how to reduce waste at whatever point they happen to be in the supply chain.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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