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12 top tips for a greener Christmas

3rd December 2020 Posted by

This year has been like no other, full of uncertainly, anxiety and worry. One thing that is certain though is Christmas, and the mountain of waste that comes with it. Retailers will traditionally plan their festive sales, tempting us all to part with our hard-earned cash. While those of us taking care of waste collections across the country, are also busy planning ahead to make sure we can handle the staggering amounts of waste and recycling that appear on streets across the nation in early January every year.

One of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been more of us spending time outdoors and not travelling the usual commute. These changes in our daily routine have got us thinking about our environmental impact, including our carbon footprint and the waste we generate.

So this year, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK has teamed up with sustainability expert Jen Gale, from Sustainable(ish) to develop 12 top tips to help you have a greener Christmas and continue to make a difference in the New Year.

It can be daunting to know where to start or what to do when we want to reduce our impact on the environment. Our tips are a great place to start, as they don’t need a lot of your time, nor will they break the bank, in fact some will even save you money! Simply start by picking just one that grabs your attention and give it a go. By ticking just one or two off the list you will already be making a difference (and it will feel good too!).

  1. Give a gift they really want – Over 81 million unwanted gifts are received each year, meaning one in ten gifts end up being thrown away. So why not gift an experience like a day out, or consider a charitable donation? If you do end up with an unwanted gift, why not find someone who does want it on Ebay, Freegle or Depop?
  2. Buy a real Christmas tree – it is much better for the environment, and even   better if you can replant it. You would have to have an artificial/plastic tree for over 20 years for it to be greener than a real Christmas tree. You can take your tree to be composted at your local household waste recycling centre in January.
  3. Switch to LED fairy lights – LED lights typically use between 25-80% less energy than traditional bulbs.
  4. Choose recyclable cards, wrapping paper and gift bags – cards, bags and paper often use glitter and are plastic based, which means they cannot be recycled. Use recycled, kraft or brown wrapping paper to ensure it can be recycled. Save gift bags, bottle bags, ribbons and bows for use throughout the year.
  5. Reduce food waste – freezing leftovers will not only create less waste but help save money. Plan ahead to make your signature leftover dish. For those leftovers which can’t be used, you could consider getting a compost bin for your garden for all your excess vegetables.
  6. Create an ‘eat me first’ shelf in the fridge – so much food ends up being thrown away each Christmas simply because it passes its use by date. If something is approaching its use by date, pop it on the ‘eat me first’ shelf in the fridge. This one simple step could really help reduce food waste.
  7.  Make your own Christmas crackers – Get creative and make your own (think Blue Peter, loo rolls and tissue paper). You can then fill them with whatever you want and hopefully avoid all those disposable plastic toys that come with normal crackers. Alternatively, you could consider the growing number of alternative Christmas crackers which are available.
  8.  Reduce your fashion footprint – dig out last year’s Christmas jumper, or buy vintage and second-hand clothes. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined!
  9. Check when your local bin collections are – it’s easy to forget over Christmas and timetables can change. Make sure you know when your bins will be collected.
  10. Flatten cardboard boxes before putting them into the recycling – make sure you have removed non-recyclable packaging like bubble wrap.
  11. Recycle your unwanted electronic items – old electronic items like old stereos, televisions and computers can be recycled. Take them to your local household waste recycling centre where they will be fixed or broken down and recycled. Some local authorities can also collect them from home with your other recycling, so check what your local service can accept.
  12. Delete any unwanted emails – got a little spare time over Christmas? Delete those unwanted emails. All that data online has to live somewhere, and it turns out it lives in massive servers which require lots of energy to run and need to be kept cool. Data centres use 1% of global electricity demand, which is more than some countries! All those emails from 2010 sat on our computer are using up energy, so let’s delete them.

If you would like to read more tips  on how to lead a sustainable life, why not check out Jen’s website packed full of handy tips and useful, honest stories on how to make a positive impact on the environment.

Do you have any of your own tips for a greener Christmas? If so, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below or join our #recycle4christmas social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Remember to use #recycle4christmas on any of your own tips for a more sustainable Christmas.

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