Christmas may be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, but it is also one of the most unsustainable. Biffa estimates that waste over the Christmas period such as food and household items ‘increases by 30%’, with more than ‘100 million rubbish bags being sent to landfill in the UK alone’. So, what can we all do to be a little bit kinder to our planet this festive season?
Please sir, I want some myrrh
It is estimated that we throw away 74 million mince pies in the UK every Christmas, over one mince pie per person! Britain is already well known for having a food waste problem, and couple that with Brits cooking ‘80% more food at Christmas’ compared to the rest of the year, it is clear how the problem snowballs at this time of year.
Tackling food waste is one of the best ways to ensure you have a sustainable Christmas and here are a few simple ways to do so!
Buy less – The shops will reopen on Boxing Day, so there is no need to panic buy for the entire festive season
Meal prep leftovers – The likelihood of you finishing all that 8kg Turkey in one sitting is low, but that doesn’t mean it should go in the bin! Make sandwiches, pop it in a soup or go all out and make that Christmas Curry. By thinking ahead what you can make with your leftover food, you can make sure it doesn’t go to waste!
Bin and compost – Many local councils now have Food Waste bins, so ensure any leftovers you can’t use go in here. Also, compost if you can so your old food can help make new food!
Bad tidings we bring, to you and your bin
Alongside food waste, a staggering 227,000 miles of wrapping paper was used in the UK last year and we sent approximately 114,000 tonnes of recyclable plastic to landfill. Even Christmas Trees that end up in landfill contribute 16kg of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, something many people wouldn’t consider when the festivities are over.
Many items we consume over Christmas can be recycled via the normal means, there will probably just be a lot more of it! But what other small changes can we make to ensure we make as small an impact as possible?
Just a plain wrap – Glitter in wrapping paper seems like a fun idea until it gets into your carpet, it becomes more of a nightmare when it comes to its disposal. Consider switching to biodegradable paper and try and re-use old wrapping paper where possible.
What a cracker of an idea – Christmas Crackers are a classic example of a tradition that is worse for the environment than you might think. Many stores now offer Plastic Free alternatives, and make sure you dispose of the rest of the cracker correctly. Or why not make your hats from leftover wrapping paper and invent your own hopeless jokes at the Christmas table.
Tree-mendous – Many local councils offer tree disposal services at their tips, or there are many companies online that will take your tree away for you – and replant them, if possible, for next year.
These small changes can have a big impact and will help ensure we can all enjoy Christmas for generations to come. If you would like to learn more about this subject or speak to an expert in this area, please reach out to Sustainability Partner Allison Ford-Langstaff.