This Christmas looks set to be unlike any other, and we’re certainly owed a well-earned break. But while we’re all ready to relax after, let’s face it, quite the year, it’s important not to overlook the impact the festive period can have on the environment.
From food waste to single-use plastic, we tend to throw away an awful lot over Christmas - and with many of us doing our shopping online, that amount is likely to increase this year. Last week we looked at ways to reduce the environmental impact of your online shopping, so this week we wanted to share some ideas on how you can cut down on waste this festive season.
It’s easier than you think to reduce the amount you throw away, and help the environment, by making some small changes.
Tackle festive food waste
Research shows that UK households create almost 270,000 tons of food waste every Christmas - including 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings, and 74 million mince pies being thrown away while still edible.
Happily, there are a few things you can do to make a difference.
Start by planning ahead. Many of us will be celebrating with fewer people than usual this year, so resist the urge to over-purchase, and work out exactly how much food you’ll need, especially if you’re hosting. When buying, don’t forget to check use-by dates, especially for meat and dairy, so that you don’t have to throw anything away before you need it.
Don’t panic if you end up with leftovers (a leftover sandwich is one of the best things about Christmas, after all…). Remember that your freezer is your friend - and that a surprising amount of festive food stuff is freezable. Love Food Hate Waste has a brilliant guide on how best to freeze any food that you don’t get round to eating.
Apparently the average UK household uses four rolls of wrapping paper every Christmas. Nationally, that adds up to the equivalent of 227,000 miles. Yikes.
This year, make the most of the extra time you’re spending at home by getting creative with how you wrap gifts for friends and family. Old comics, newspapers or magazines make good options - extra points if you pick pages or headlines that are particularly memorable. Avoid sellotape, which doesn’t biodegrade, and instead use string or ribbon for a tape-free option.
(It all can be reused next year too, so unwrap carefully!)
Make Your Own
Racking your brains over that tricky Secret Santa gift? We’ve all been there. But while it might be tempting to pick up something novelty, plastic and covered in glitter (also made of plastic, FYI), be mindful of giving something that is, realistically, only going to end up in the bin.
Instead, why not harness your DIY skills and make something from scratch? If you’re a keen cook, jams and chutneys can be made in batches and tend to keep well. Or if crafting is more of your bag, check out Pinterest for handmade face mask tutorials - possibly the most practical stocking filler for 2020/21.