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Eco-Committee: Ten Tips for a Waste-Free Christmas

Thursday 8 December 2022

In the first of a regular series of reports from Queenswood’s Eco-Committee, here are some suggestions for reducing your carbon footprint this Christmas, without missing out on any of the festive cheer!

Wrapping paper

The average UK household will get through four rolls of wrapping paper and a roll and a half of tape at Christmas. This adds up to a lot of waste - but there are eco-friendly alternatives! Some of these can be found on the website below. Another easy alternative is giving gifts in recyclable paper bags, instead of single use ones, or to wrap your gifts in cloth or something similar. Also, using less wrapping paper where it is being used is a really simple way to reduce your waste. 


Tinsel is made of plasticm which cannot be recycled, so it ends up in landfill. Eco tinsel has been specifically designed to be an environmentally friendly alternative, that looks just like the real thing and is great to get in the festive spirit. 


Many decorations are thrown away each year, when they can be saved and reused many times over. If you are in need of new ones, think of making your own! There are many fun ideas to try on Tiktok, using simple items you will have at home. Some companies that make reputable eco decorations are below. 

Food waste

Christmas is one of the worst times of the year for food waste. UK households waste 740,000 Christmas puddings, two million turkeys, and 7.4 million mince pies every year. Instead of buying ingredients like vegetables in large bulk packages, buying loose can reduce your waste considerably. If you have leftovers after your Christmas dinner, reuse these with the easy recipes below. 


Evidence has shown that although artificial Christmas trees can be reused, a real Christmas tree is more environmentally friendly, as they are biodegradable and compostable, while artificial trees will ultimately end up in landfill. If you have an eco-friendly Christmas tree with its roots still attached, then replanting your Christmas tree is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and get new trees for the next few years. There are also wooden versions of Christmas trees you can get, and reuse every year, if you are against the traditional plastic artificial trees. These can be found below. 


One billion Christmas cards will end up in bins; this is the equivalent of 33 million trees. Avoiding cards with glitter can reduce your impact significantly, and where glitter is used it should not be disposed of in sinks. Consider buying eco-friendly cards, which can be found on the re-wrapped link shown above, or virtual cards like these paperless post ones; there are so many available online. 


Environmental activists are calling for the traditional Christmas cracker to be banned, as they are responsible for a large contribution of plastic waste to landfill every year. Tesco’s own-label crackers are plastic-free for the first time, including non-plastic presents inside. Other alternatives can be found on the link below; or make your own, with unique and personalised gifts! 


Christmas lights can be easily recycled at your local disposal centres; or better still, they can be fixed! With a bit of research online, there is no need to dispose of your Christmas lights. Additionally, monitoring your energy usage using a smart meter, and making sure lights are not on all the time can significantly reduce the energy wasted and reduce costs for your home. 


Over 21 million of us receive at least one unwanted gift each Christmas, and 23 million unwanted gifts ended-up in landfill last Christmas. If you find yourself with an unwanted gift, you can: donate it to charity shops and local initiatives collecting gifts and items for people experiencing hardship are everywhere; regift it, the best zero waste Christmas gift; or sell it on sites such as gumtree or eBay. If you’re not sure what to buy someone, buy vouchers or work with another person who knows them better to get them a present you know they’ll love.