The festive season is upon on us, a time for us to remind people how much we care and to make happy lasting memories, but sadly Christmas can also bring with it a wasteful side when it comes to the environment. Did you know that each year 74 million mince pies will be binned in the UK, over 50% of us will receive at least one gift we do not want and collectively we will go through so much sticky tape we could wrap the world in it 499 times? Madness!
Thankfully, there are many easy ways to aim for a low waste Christmas, so if like me you want to aim for a greener festive season here are my favourite ideas to try:
Make your own wreath
Making a DIY wreath can be so much fun, a winter walk is the perfect time to forage for wreath making essentials. If you find the idea of foraging a little daunting, you can always support local and contact your local florists as many are now offering DIY wreath making kits or workshop sessions
Embrace your wardrobe
Do you remember where you put last year’s Christmas jumper? Often, we feel pressure to buy a new item of clothing when we already have something perfect waiting to be re-worn in our wardrobe. If, however you can't find last years and need to purchase a new Christmas jumper, check out your local charity shops or resale sites to give a preloved jumper a new home (and for a fraction of the price of new).
Ditch the plastic in gift wrap
Fabric gift wrap is a beautiful reusable option that is super popular in Japan, they call it furoshiki. The fabric doesn't have to be fancy, and I would argue that you can't go wrong using a block colour of fabric and incorporating some foliage to add a touch of natural beauty. If this seems a little too adventurous, try keeping your brown packing paper and reuse it to wrap your gifts. Using a seasonal paper tape will add a pop of colour while also keeping the gift wrap fully recyclable and home compostable.
Top tip: to test if wrapping paper can be recycled, try the scrunch test. If the wrapping stays scrunched in your hand when you let it go, it is paper and can be recycled. If the paper starts to uncurl itself, it is coated in plastic and cannot be recycled. Remember to also watch out for any glitters on gift paper which will make it unrecyclable.
Give the gift of memories and time
Unwanted gifts can become a future trip to the charity shop. Why not purchase an experience that will be remembered. A voucher for a massage at a local spa will always go down well or offering to take a friend or loved one out for a cinema/theatre date will bring equal appreciation and joy. Get thinking about their interests and how you can create a memory around it. I promise this type of gift will be treasured.
Make a shopping list
Avoiding waste can start with a simple shopping list. Stores have deals encouraging us to purchase more than we need so it's important to be ready to avoid the temptation to overbuy. Where possible buy veg loose to can get the exact amount needed while also avoiding excessive plastic packaging. Using local businesses can also reduce the food miles.
Get creative with your leftovers
Plan how you can use potential leftovers in advance. It can be as easy as making some custard to pour over that last bit of cake that is a little dry, making a boxing day sandwich or you could even try frying your own potato cakes.