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There is no question that the festive period generates a lot of waste. Over the years I have watched how much waste we produce as a family over Christmas and felt completely overwhelmed by the whole thing.
Without wanting to put a complete downer on Christmas here are some Christmas waste facts for you…
Christmas Waste Stats
- Each Christmas as much as 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper ends up in UK rubbish bins, enough to cover an area larger than Guernsey – cbenvironmental
- 125,000 tonne of plastic packaging is thrown away – envirowaste
- 4,200 tonnes of aluminium foil is thrown away at Christmas in the UK – envirowaste
- 6 million trees end up being thrown away – Independent
The scariest thing about those statistics is that those numbers are increasing every year! This year I have decided enough is enough and I need to start making some significant changes.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not expecting to create a completely zero waste Christmas, just the thought of that stresses me out. What I intend to do is drastically reduce the amount of waste we produce over the Christmas period.
After a lot of research here are my top 10 tips for having a zero waste Christmas…
Wrap Presents in Reusable Wrapping Paper
This is one of my main aims this year. After doing a bit of research I have found a few companies online that sell ready-made reusable wrapping paper including Wrag Wrap & Happywrap. There are also a lot of sellers on *Etsy.
If you are creative you can always buy second-hand material from a charity shop or car boot sale and make your own. There is a Japanese method called furoshiki which is a way of wrapping presents with material. Check out the tutorials on YouTube for ideas.
If you find yourself with a lot of brown paper form packaging then why not use that to wrap your presents this year? You can decorate the presents with natural elements.
Use Reusable Crackers
Reusable crackers were something that I hadn’t even considered before. I had just decided not to have crackers at all which wasn’t ideal because I do feel that crackers really make a Christmas meal special.
I decided to have a Google to see if there were alternatives and I came across a few websites that sell ready-made reusable ones. Some even come complete with a bang (obviously not reusable but probably compostable as they are generally made of cardboard).
We got ours from a shop called Keep This Cracker. Check out my post below to find out more.
Related Post: Reusable Christmas Crackers – Zero Waste Lifestyle
If you don’t want to buy ready made ones you can always attempt to make your own reusable ones.
Use Reusable Napkins
Every year I used to buy those packs of disposable napkins to match the colour theme of our Christmas table. They would get used once then go into the bin. Last year I decided enough was enough and purchased a pack of plain white reusable napkins.
I have written everyone’s names on the little labels that are attached to them so each person has their own napkin. This means that they can be reused at meal times, as long as they aren’t covered in mess.
Make Natural Decorations
Ideally, we should all be reusing the same decorations every year but sometimes things need replacing. Why not go for a walk and gather up some pine cones and holly and create your own.
Alternatively, if you’re not the arty type then try the charity shops for second-hand decorations. Having worked in one for 8 years I can tell you for a fact that they get a lot of decorations in!
Give Experience Gifts instead of Things
Gifting an experience rather than an actual present is about as zero waste as you can get. There are lots of companies online that offer all sorts of experiences. In previous years I have bought a virtual reality session for my nephew, singing lessons for my sister and a vineyard tour & tasting day for my Father.
My favourite place to purchase experience gifts is *Groupon UK. They have some amazing deals. We’ve bought all sorts from there before including short breaks away, courses and spa days.
Buy Reusable Gifts for Friends & Family
If you still want to give actual gifts rather than experiences then why not buy reusable products. There is a whole range of different items item out there from reusable shopping bags, coffee mugs and metal straws. Check out my zero waste gift guide below for more ideas.
Related Post: Zero Waste Gift Guide
Give Homemade Gifts
If you are handy in the kitchen then why not make some homemade gifts. Start collecting glass jars a few months before, fill them with your homemade product and decorate them with leftover ribbons. If you don’t have any ribbon or jars then try asking for some on the free sites such as Freecycle or *Preloved.
I recently made my own toothpaste and my Mother has asked me to make her some as a Christmas present. So it doesn’t always have to be food.
Use Up Leftovers
If you know what you are planning to eat over Christmas then do a bit of research beforehand to see what you can make from the leftovers. We always end up with a roast soup that we either eat on boxing day or freeze for another day.
There are lots of online photo editing sites where you can create your own Christmas cards. Personally, I use *Canva for all of my photo editing needs. Alternatively, you could use a company like Paperless post.
Once you have created your card you then simply send it via email or on social media rather than by post.
Keep Cards to Make Gift Tags Next Year
I have been doing this for several years now and find it works really well. Yes, it does mean that after Christmas I end up with a bag full of used cards that I have to keep for a year but that doesn’t bother me.
I don’t want to stop others sending us cards as I know it’s something that people like to do. At least if I reuse them I feel I’m doing something positive to reduce waste.
Related Post: Thrifty Christmas Name Tags
So what about you? What are your top tips for having a zero waste Christmas? Leave me a comment below with your suggestions.
About Gina Caro
Gina is a content creator and award-winning blogger. Her aim is to help you live a more sustainable & simple life. Her blog covers zero waste, minimalism, wellbeing & thrift. She currently lives in Cornwall with her partner, two kids and Charles the dog.