How to reduce your waste this festive season

How to reduce your waste this festive season

Christmas is a time for friends, family and festive cheer. But we must also remember to make efforts to be sustainable during the holidays. Becoming green is no longer merely an option, it’s a necessity.

If the UK is to stand any chance of reaching its ambitious net zero goals, we must address the issue of waste, even during the holidays! The UK produces over 3 million tonnes of waste at Christmas alone. So, it is important that we reduce this waste as much as possible.

We take a look at how you can reduce your holiday waste this Christmas.

Buy smart

Secret Santa is a fun way to limit the number of presents you need to buy each year. This festive gift exchange encourages people to stick to a budget and be thoughtful about what kind of present to buy.

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 that there is nothing to discard in the bin.

Second-hand gifts are often more personal, as well as environmentally sustainable. And you could also consider buying presents from local shops, cutting down on travel emissions and supporting your local community.

Wrapping paper is one of the biggest sources of UK Christmas waste. Around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is discarded each year. If rolled out, this would wrap around the Earth nearly 10 times! We recommend switching to recycled wrapping paper, or better yet, try wrapping presents in linens, newspaper or brown paper.

Eco-friendly decorations

Tinsel and other decorations are another major source of plastic waste, but fortunately they are also fairly easy to substitute. Nearby woodlands or parks can provide natural alternatives decorations, such as holly and greenery. Or, if you fancy a bit of arts and crafts you could try to make paper chains using leftover wrapping paper. Instead of buying plastic baubles and tinsel, why not try making a dried fruit garland or gingerbread tree decorations?

For many, disposing of a tree symbolises the end of Christmas. But it’s a shame that such an arduous and destructive 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 collect it again in January. And the beauty is that not only do you save yourself a lot of work and mess, but the same tree can be used many times throughout its life.

Finally, let’s talk about lights. Christmas lights are a huge source of energy waste during the holidays, and they are often left on for hours. As they are usually reused year after year, the bulbs and wiring can be quite inefficient and are often not the latest technology. A great two-pronged approach to this is to first switch to LED lights and then put your lights on a timer. You could save up to 80% on your lighting bill with new energy efficient bulbs, plus they won’t be lit when there is no one around to enjoy them.

Avoid food waste

As the days blend together during Christmas, so do our mealtimes. Our menus and portions tend to increase as we indulge during the festive period. The UK carves a staggering 10 million turkeys each Christmas. We need to reuse leftover food to free up enough fridge space! Soups, stews and curries are an excellent way to make use of leftovers rather than binning them. Consider freezing leftover vegetables to blend later, or making sandwiches from cold cuts of turkey or ham.

Sourcing your food locally is a great way to become more eco-friendly. Supporting small, independent suppliers will also strengthen your local economy. Shopping local cuts down on transport emissions, as well as the energy used in storage and distribution. Shopping at independent stores can also reduce the time you spend in crowded supermarkets – time that can be enjoyed with friends and family instead.

How can ESS help?

With festive cheer just around the corner, it is vital that we remember to be as sustainable as possible. Not just now, but all year round.

At ESS, we are dedicated to helping our clients in education, leisure and healthcare tread a little softer on the earth. Our waste management systems, lighting installations and energy saving solutions can provide significant advantages to your business. From both a financial and environmental perspective. We offer free audits to survey different elements of your business and see where improvements could be made. Once this information has been collected, we can help you identify the right solution for you and kickstart your journey to sustainability.

Get in touch to hear more about how ESS can help you to stay sustainable, all year round.

And a very merry Christmas from everyone at ESS!

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