We call Christmas the most wonderful time of the year — for many, it is! But it can be extremely harsh on the environment. We use cling film to cover leftovers, swathes of non recyclable paper to wrap gifts, and the equivalent of millions of Christmas dinners go to waste each year. By being a bit more conscious over the festive season, you can greatly reduce your impact. Here are five ways to have a green Christmas — without spending a penny!
1. Kick out cling film
Christmas dinner leaves you with lots of leftovers (they’re the best part of Christmas, right?). You may be tempted to cover them with cling film, but did you know that cling film is one of the most wasteful types of plastic? It’s as single use as it gets, and no councils in the UK collect it for recycling.
Tell Aunty Jan to put the cling film down, and instead, cover bowls with plates and reuse tupperware! You can also reuse glass jars to store things like nuts. If you need to cover larger things, opt for aluminium foil. Foil is readily recycled all around the UK — simply rinse it and scrunch it into a ball before throwing it in your recycling bin.
Read more: Recycling symbols explained
2. Become a food waste fanatic
The equivalent of four million Christmas dinners are wasted over the festive period each year in the UK alone. That’s the equivalent of two million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and five million Christmas puddings. Clearly, that’s a catastrophic amount of waste.
When food goes into your general waste bin, it ends up in landfill sites. Food rots in landfill, which produces methane, a greenhouse gas.
Plan your food shop carefully and store food properly to minimise wastage. For instance, you can freeze cooked meats, like turkey and ham, and cheese, such as stilton, to reuse in the new year.
For anything you can’t store or reuse, you should ideally compost it. If your council doesn’t collect food waste, Recycle Now has extensive FAQs on how to compost at home.
3. Get resourceful with gift wrap
Did you know that most wrapping paper is not collected for recycling? This is because it’s often dyed, laminated, or contains plastic elements, such as glitter.
Brown paper is a great alternative, which is easily recycled across the UK. But why not reuse what you already have, instead? Most households have an abundance of old newspapers and magazines lying around. You could also use old maps, music paper, or fabric cuttings!
Add a touch of foliage or natural string to add that je ne sais quoi!
4. DIY your decorations
Many decorations come packaged in plastic, or are made from plastic themselves. But adding Christmassy touches to your home doesn’t have to create waste. You can make your own zero-waste decorations by using things found in the garden!
Pine cones can be turned into garlands, mini Christmas trees, baubles, or even hedgehogs. Or simply add them to a glass vase with fairy lights for a warm, cosy effect.
You can also make pretty decor with fallen branches and fir tree sprigs.
Not only are your homemade decorations compostable if you no longer need them, but they’re much more personal, too!
5. Turn your tree into a wildlife habitat
Winter can be tough on wildlife, who have to cope with harsh weather conditions and scarce food. Your old Christmas tree can provide much needed shelter. To do this, chop up the trunk and branches and leave them in a pile in a corner of your garden.
Alternatively, you can leave your tree whole and turn it into a bird feeder. Secure it in a heavy pot and decorate the branches with food. You can dip pine cones in peanut butter and cover it in bird feed, fill a scooped out orange with bird feed, or simply add old fruit. Attach them to the tree via string to make edible decorations for birds. Capital Gardens has more great suggestions.
We hope we’ve provided some inspiration for how to have a green Christmas! Find out more ways to reduce plastic on a budget, and catch up on all-things eco on our blog. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to never miss a post.
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