We all know that familiar sinking feeling, as the recycling and rubbish bags pile up over Christmas. So why not make this year your turning point? Here are a few simple tips that will help.
Having a less wasteful Christmas is mainly about being a bit more thoughtful. Buy fewer gifts but consider them more carefully. If you’re giving physical presents, look for shops and websites with a zero- or reduced-waste policy. There are loads of lovely gifts out there that come in minimal packaging.
Alternatively, why not give a voucher, sponsor something useful or make a dedication in someone’s name? The great thing is you don’t have to do much to make a difference. Imagine if everyone who reads this changed five things this year?
Of course, food is a huge part of Christmas, unfortunately, most of us waste a lot of it. The secret is planning. Buy only what you need and use up your leftovers. And remember, the shops are closed for a couple of days, not three weeks.
Top gift wrapping tips
- Don’t buy wrapping paper with glitter or foils, which aren't recyclable.
- For a more personal touch, try potato-printing your own paper.
- Discover the Japanese art of Furoshiki, which uses squares of cloth to wrap gifts. It isn’t difficult and the results can be beautiful.
- Use plain paper and jazz it up with recyclable accessories, such as ribbons and baubles.
- Do the scrunch test on used wrapping paper. If it stays scrunched, it’s probably okay to recycle; if it springs back into shape, put it in your refuse bin. (It will contaminate the recycling.)
Christmas tree ideas
Christmas trees are gorgeous but can have a carbon footprint. The best options are:
- Reuse your current one.
- buy a pre-loved fake tree.
- Look after a real tree and reuse it each year.
Top decorating tips
- Avoid buying plastic decorations this Christmas. Bunting, origami or pinecone decorations are much better than tinsel.
- Switch Christmas decorations with family, friends or work colleagues for a fresh look, rather than buying new ones.
- Make a natural Christmas wreath. You can even have one that will feed the birds as well as looking great!
- Make your own natural table decorations - holly leaves look fantastically festive.
- Avoid buying Christmas crackers which often contain plastic toys. Instead make your own using toilet roll tubes!
- Look out for gifts that come with as little packaging as possible -or that you can recycle.
- If you are stuck for some gift ideas, why not try a zero waste kit. Try including a metal or bamboo straw, cutlery, a reusable coffee cup, reusable wraps, water bottle and an eco-lunch box.
- Sellotape is made of plastic, but don’t panic! You can wrap gifts with brown paper tape, ribbon or string. Better yet, go for a reusable option like a box, bag, or cloth.
surreyep.org.uk – Surrey Environment Partnership has a recycling tool and lots of useful information
invaluable.com/blog/furoshiki – a guide to Furoshiki, the ultimate reusable wrapping
recyclenow.com – the scrunch test and much more
Shop sustainably with Surrey Wildlife Trust
Includes a FREE pack of two beeswax wraps!