Ways to reduce your waste this Christmas

Published: 7 December 2019

Council House at night

Discover our favourite tips and tricks to help you reduce waste, recycle more and save some money.

Christmas, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also one of the most wasteful with tonnes of cards, wrapping paper and food (costing billions) being consigned to the black bin.

Whether you’re already shopping for presents, planning a trip to the loft for the decorations or still in denial that Christmas is just 48 days away (at the time of posting), it’s never too early to think about how you can reduce your Christmas waste footprint.

We’ve pulled together some of our favourite tips and tricks to help you reduce waste, recycle more and save some money too!

Wrapping paper: Although it looks pretty, glittery and foiled wrapping paper can’t be recycled! Nor can wrapping paper with plastic film covering. Opt for plain or recycled papers and decorate with string or ribbons and fragrant natural decorations such as pine cones and acorns, sprigs of evergreen or cinnamon sticks.  You can test if wrapping paper is recyclable by using the Recycle Now scrunch test. If wrapping isn’t your thing, why not put gifts in reusable cloth bags? You could even personalise them for recipients!

Christmas cards: They can be recycled if they are just card without glued on or glittery decorations. If you do want to recycle those cards, you’ll need to take off any embellishments and glittery areas before putting them in the blue bin. Alternatively, cut them up to use to make gift tags for next year!

Decorations: Try a traditional theme for your decorations. Modern decorations come in a whole host of colours and designs but many of them can’t be recycled – even glass baubles. If you’re buying decorations choose ones that can be reused year after year. Natural decorations like holly, mistletoe and ivy can all be composted once festivities are over. Real Christmas trees can also be composted, cut up and popped in the brown bin or taken to Raynesway. 

Parties: Who doesn’t love a good Christmas party?! If you’re planning a festive extravaganza, try and ditch the disposables. It might mean some more washing up, but not using disposable plates, bowls, napkins and cutlery will save space in your bin and save you some money too.

Food: With the average household already throwing away £60 worth of food a month, it doesn’t get any better at Christmas. From roasting too many potatoes to picking up an extra bag of Brussels ‘just in case’ many of us simply buy too much. Love Food Hate Waste have some excellent ideas for making the most of your food to cut down on waste as well as guides on portion sizes and savvy food shopping. We can’t avoid some food waste so rather than consigning it to the black bin, compost it or recycle it in your brown bin.

Presents: Homemade gifts are a great option, they’re a fun and personal approach to present-giving, and you can decide exactly how much packaging you use. You could also give experiences as gifts. Tickets to concerts, gift cards for restaurants, spa experiences and so on can make for great zero-waste presents. If you’re heading online or to the shops, stop and think about the packaging – whatever you’re buying might be nicely displayed in its box, but how much of it can be recycled?

Other top tips:

  • Do whatever wrapping you can before your last pre-Christmas collection. This way, any paper, card or packaging can be recycled before the bin collections stop for the holidays. Don’t forget to flatten cardboard boxes and squash recycling down so you can fit more in your bin.
  • If you need to change the batteries in any of your appliances, you can recycle the old ones at the battery recycling points in most supermarkets. When you get your new ones, try using rechargeable batteries to reduce how many get thrown away or recycled!
  • When you get something new, instead of throwing the old item away, give it a new home. Charity shops are always looking for sellable goods, and using Freecycle is a great way to pass on your stuff.
  • If you’re wrapping up a delicate item, try padding it with shredded paper instead of foam peanuts or anything plastic. Shredded paper can then be composted or recycled.
  • If you get any new electricals, the old ones can be recycled at Raynesway Household Waste and Recycling Centre.

Remember, when bin collections start again in January, you can leave out any additional recycling you have and up to three extra bags of black bin waste. We’ll be sharing details of Christmas collections soon.

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