It’s the beginning of December and Christmas is just around the corner – a time of family, celebration but most worryingly, waste.
The Christmas period is a frenzy of purchases, whether that be food, drinks, presents, wrapping paper, christmas trees… altogether, lots of waste is involved. There are many simple, easy ways to avoid the waste which may go unnoticed.
More than 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper is used on Christmas presents – that’s the equivalent of 50,000 trees. Every year, we throw away 1 billion – yes, that’s right… 1 billion Christmas cards. 1,500 tonnes of used tree lights are thrown away. 250 tonnes of Christmas trees are thrown away each year – that’s the equivalent of 30 elephants. 230,000 tonnes of festive food waste is thrown away – that’s enough to feed the German population for a day or Lithuania for a month (thank you GPT for supplying all of these waste facts).
Here are a few tips that can reduce waste in your household this year:
Real Christmas trees – artificial trees are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, meaning they’ll sit in a landfill for centuries after disposal. Real trees on the other hand, can be recycled into mulch, used in landscaping and gardening or chipped and used for playground material, hiking trails, paths and walkways.
Batteries – many electronics are bought as presents at Christmas – instead of purchasing single-use batteries, buy rechargeable ones.
Clothes – surprisingly, 80,000 tonnes of old clothes are thrown away each year. Why not recycle them? A lot of clothing is made of organic material, meaning that it is derived from natural sources and is biodegradable. If you don’t recycle them, they may end up in landfills, which lack the oxygen needed for organic materials to break down so, when clothing does end up in a landfill, it decomposes through anaerobic digestion.
Food shopping – it sounds simple, but only buy as much as you need. In regards to plastic waste, it’s best to buy fruit and vegetables loose, this means less plastic packaging. Drinks? Be sure to buy bigger bottles, rather than more smaller bottles.
Christmas lights – don’t keep them on all day. Keeping Christmas lights on for 10 hours a day over 12 days produces enough CO2 to inflate 12 balloons – limit the amount of time you keep them on. Also consider using solar powered lights over LED.
Wrapping – as noted above, 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper is used on Christmas, so to reduce this, why not use something else? Gift bags are reusable, fabric wrapping is also a nice, sustainable idea… maybe newspaper if you’re really pushing it? It may not have the same shiny, gifting aesthetic but it will certainly help the waste.
Christmas cards – there’s no question… a lot go to waste. Making your own Christmas cards will not just help waste, it will get your creative juices flowing at the same time. Who needs a store-bought design when you have your own imagination? It’s a great activity for kids also.