10 Dec 11 ways to reduce your holiday waste this Christmas
The holiday season is defined by celebratory indulgence and excess, which unfortunately often leads to an enormous amount of holiday waste. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid the chaotic whirl of discarded wrapping paper, tinsel, and leftover food we all face on Boxing Day. To help you have a Christmas that is as green as it is merry, we have put together a list of our best tips on how to reduce your holiday waste.
- Secret Santa is a fun way to limit the number of presents you need to buy each year and encourages people to follow a budget and be specific. Reducing the overall number of presents you buy reduces the amount of holiday waste that will ultimately result. Since the present is more likely to be something of higher quality – because the giver only has one opportunity – it means it is less likely to be as quickly discarded.
- Gifting experiences, as opposed to objects, is another great way to reduce the environmental impact of gift-giving. A day at a spa, a show, or a visit to a National Trust site means there is nothing to go in the bin.
- Finding vintage or second-hand gifts can be more personal as well as environmentally sustainable. Second hand or not, try to buy your presents from local shops so as to cut down on travel emissions and support your community.
- Christmas cards can be tricky: deciding who to include on your mailing list, personalising each one and pesky postage costs. Avoid all of these challenges by sending charity ecards which are completely waste-free and support a good cause.
- Wrapping paper is one of the biggest sources of UK Christmas waste. We threw away almost enough wrapping paper to reach the moon in 2018 alone! That’s why one of the best things you can do to reduce holiday waste this year is rethinking your gift wrapping. Most wrapping paper has a plastic gloss coating, making it unsuitable for recycling. We recommend switching to recycled wrapping paper. Better yet, try wrapping presents in old linens, newspapers or magazines.
- Tinsel and other decorations are another major source of plastic waste, fortunately they are also fairly easy to substitute. Nearby woodlands or parks can provide natural alternatives like holly and greenery. These will look lovely hung over the curtain rails or mantelpiece. Or, if you fancy a bit of art and crafts try making paper chains using leftover wrapping paper. Why not try stringing together some citrus slices, cranberries, and/or popcorn to create a colourful garland.
- Disposing of a bronzed pine tree has been the symbolic end of Christmas for many. It’s a shame that such an arduous task should mark the end of such a happy season. Instead, consider renting a tree this year. Services around the UK will deliver a tree to your door and then collect it again in January. The beauty here is not only do you save yourself a lot of work and mess, but the same tree can be used many times over the course of its life. You’ll be preventing another tree from perishing in the name of Christmas.
- Finally, let’s talk about lights. Christmas lights are a huge source of energy waste during the holidays. Often left on for hours, set up in sometimes huge arrays, and because they are usually inherited or reused year after year, the bulbs and wiring can be quite inefficient. A great two-pronged approach to these issues is first to switch to LED lights. Then put your lights on a timer. You could save up to 80% on your lighting bill with new bulbs, plus they won’t be lit when no one has the chance to enjoy them.
Avoiding food waste
- As the days tend to blend together during Christmas, so do our mealtimes. And as the timeframes expand, so do menus and portion sizes. Reusing leftover food almost becomes imperative to ensure you have enough fridge space day by day. Soups, stews and curries are an excellent way to use up leftovers rather than binning them. Consider freezing leftover vegetables to blend later or making sandwiches from cold cuts of turkey or ham.
- Another way to eat and cook more consciously, is to hold potlucks. Granted this will be more challenging this Christmas because of Covid concerns. But asking different family or household members to cook individual dishes means cutting back on extra accompaniments. Especially those that tend to only get eaten at Christmas and then end up in the bin – we’re looking at you stale packets of crackers!
- Sourcing your food locally is a great way to make it more eco-friendly. It also means that small, independent suppliers can benefit and strengthen your local economy. Finally, it cuts down on transport emissions, energy used in storage and distribution. It also reduces the time spent by you in crowded supermarkets. Time that should be enjoyed with friends and family.
At ESS, we are proud of how we are able to help our clients to reduce their waste and tread a little softer on the earth. We wish you and your families a very merry, and green, Christmas this year and look forward to supporting your eco-efforts for years to come.