Christmas is known as a time for giving, receiving and also overindulging, but this means that December is one of the most wasteful months of the entire year.
Figures from the ‘Women’s Environmental Network’ indicate that on average, the UK produces 30% more waste (3 million tonnes) during the Christmas period compared to other months. Four factors that are undoubtedly contributing to this extra waste at Christmas are:
1) food waste
2) wrapping paper
3) cardboard packaging
4) Christmas trees
but what can we do to help make Christmas less rubbish for the environment?
Well according to ‘Love Food Hate Waste’, the equivalent of 2 million turkeys and 74 million mince pies are thrown away every Christmas. To overcome this, edible meat and vegetable leftovers can be made into meals (curries, stews etc.) and given to local homeless charities.
Moving onto wrapping paper, luckily, most types can be recycled so try to separate this from your landfill waste (except papers containing metallic and glitter). If you’re unsure, keep the wrapping paper and reuse it for wrapping gifts the following Christmas or reuse the paper for art projects and/or campaign posters.
Furthermore, statistics from ‘Recycle Now’, indicate that the UK gets through 300,000 tonnes of packaging at Christmas – that’s enough to cover Big Ben 240,000 times over! To avoid this wastage, try to buy items and gifts that have been packaged in materials from sustainable sources or alternatively shop at zero-waste shops where packaging is non-existent!
Finally, the ‘British Christmas Trees Growers’ Association’ estimate that 6 million non-artificial Christmas trees are either burnt/dumped each year; there is no need for this! In January, Household Recycling Centres often accept Christmas trees, whilst many Local Authorities offer recycling services at Country Parks (here the trees are stripped and used as wood-chip in parks). In addition to this, certain charities also offer Christmas tree recycling in early January for a small donation.
As Christmas draws closer, remember to tell your friends and family about the additional waste that results from the holiday period. I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas!
By Victoria Heald