Words by: Heleayner Davies
Its Christmas Morning. You’re opening your presents with loved ones, sipping on bucks fizz and looking forward to that Christmas dinner you’ve been waiting twelve long and hard months for. But when you’re opening your presents, be mindful that UK households will be throwing away more than 277,000 miles of wrapping paper - enough to stretch all the way to the Moon.
If those statistics weren’t scary enough, waste collection company, Biffa, estimates that we create a further 30 per cent more rubbish than usual during this time of year, using more than 300,000 tones of card and sending more than 100 million bags of garbage to landfill.
So, if you overindulged this Christmas, what can you do to reduce your waste and start the New Year guilt-free and eco-conscious?
Keep reading to see our top 5 tips to help you recycle waste this Christmas.
Trees for life
According to waste management company Fresh Start, around six million real Christmas trees will end up in landfills this year, taking years to decompose and releasing methane which is said to be 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. If you don’t own a shredder, your local council may run a recycling scheme which takes trees and turns them into wood chippings and compost to be used on parks and gardens. You can find out about tree recycling schemes in your local area by entering your postcode into the Recycling Locator at recyclenow.com. Alternatively, you can do a good deed for both the planet and those in need by contacting the charity Just Helping, which collects trees on behalf of hospices and other charities. Artificial trees can’t be recycled, but charity shops and voluntary organisations may welcome them and upcycle them.
Wrap up that wrapping paper
Some local councils accept discarded wrapping paper for recycling, however others may not, so check first before putting it in your paper bin or dropping it off at your local recycling centre. As a general rule, paper which is laminated, contains glitter or is very thin with few fibres isn’t suitable for recycling. We recommend trying the simple ‘scrunch test’. If the paper holds its shape when scrunched into a ball, its recyclable; if it springs back, it’s not. Always remember to remove sticky tape and plastic bows before recycling, as these are not recyclable. If you have children, get them creative by turning wrapping paper into ‘confetti’ for New Year’s Eve parties.
Go for re-gifting
Would someone benefit from the four scarves, woolly hats and pairs of gloves that thoughtful friends and relatives gave you? Could yet another bath & body set help a person in need? Before stuffing unwanted presents to the back of the cupboard – or worse, throwing them in the bin, find a charity that helps homeless people or less fortunate families and donate directly. Beauty Banks is a non-profit social enterprise which collects toiletry donations for those who aren’t able to afford them. You can donate either by visiting Beauty Banks Beauty Spots nationwide, or they have drop off points in Superdrug branches across Manchester and Scotland. Alternatively, if there is a Freegle network in your area it’s a great place to offer up gifts that you don’t need as someone, somewhere, may just be looking for that Nutri Bullet or foot spa that your Grandma gave you.
Play your cards right
Although some local collection schemes may be in operation this Christmas, the latest advice from the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle campaign is to place your Christmas cards in your regular card/paper recycling bin, as long as you remember to remove embellishments and any batteries beforehand. Or, if your children are already bored of their Christmas toys, get them creative by turning them into gift tags, calendars or thank you cards.
Food for thought
We all know that we have a tendency to overindulge and buy way more food that we actually need at Christmas time. According to research by GP batteries, we will have already thrown away the equivalent of 54 million platefuls this Christmas, so anything that we save is a bonus. Before binning the fruit bowl, dig out that old recipe book and seek inspiration. Over-ripe bananas are great for making banana bread, satsumas make delicious and decadent orange cake and half-empty bottles of liquors work a treat in trifles. Stale bread, cakes and mince pies will be warmly welcomed by hungry Winter birds, who also love chopped fruit and nuts. When doing the post-Christmas cupboard clear out, take any spare or unwanted tinned goods or items with use-by dates to your nearest foodbank.