5 simple ways to have a less wasteful Christmas

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There aren’t many days left until Christmas and many of the discussions on my Facebook group are about saying ‘I love you’ to the environment as well as each other.

Here are some of the ways we’ve come up with to make your Christmas a little greener and a little less wasteful this year.

Local Gift-Hunting

Many of the gifts we give at Christmas are shipped across the world, leaving a trail of greenhouse gas emissions attached to your package. To minimise your carbon footprint, wander around local craft fairs and speak to artisans who create handmade gifts. The beauty of this is you’ll almost be guaranteed to find something totally unique. And because you’re standing with them, you can ask for minimal plastic packaging.

By skipping battery-powered presents too, you don’t contribute to the 40% increase in battery sales that occur during the holidays. Batteries, when not disposed of properly, can represent an environmental hazard. If you can’t resist a battery-operated gift, why not give a set of rechargeable batteries and charging unit as part of the gift too?

Christmas Season Activities in Nature

It’s tempting to spend more time indoors during the winter and this usually means more heating and lighting in our homes. Reduce your reliance on the grid and take the family out to explore the principles of sustainable living. For example, you could engage in a bird count with your family members, by recording the name and species of every bird – as well as the numbers of them that you see. If you keep this kind of thing up consistently each year, you’ll begin to understand migration patterns, endangered statuses and how excess waste can impact wildlife and the environment. All of this can help you develop your motivation for wanting to live a less wasteful life when you fancy splurging on that novelty item! And with the RSPB bird count in January, you’ll be well practised ready to take part!

Downsize the Electricity Bill for Christmas Lighting

What would Christmas be without twinkly lights? I’ve always maintained that a zero waste lifestyle doesn’t mean deprivation or going without, it just requires some consideration about less wasteful choices. Solar LED lights are a big way to save as well as reduce your carbon footprint. You ultimately contribute to less gas and oil being burned, as LEDs use just a fraction of the energy of other bulbs.

Green Options for Wrapping Paper

Wrapping is big business – especially around the holiday season. In fact Defra estimates that enough paper is used each year to gift-wrap the island of Guernsey. You can do your bit to reduce the inevitable waste by skipping out on the hard-to-reuse metallic, glossy wrapping paper and going for the plain paper wrapping which can be recycled easily. Other ideas include furoshiki (the art of wrapping in fabric) and making the wrapping part of the gift, such as using a tin or scarf. Find other ideas for zero waste gift wrapping here.

Take Care With Electronic Devices

With new gadgets being a popular Christmas gift, the temptation to throw old electronics away, in order to create more room, is a big one. Remember that anything with a crossed out wheelie bin symbol on it should be recycled. You can take them to high street stores that sell electronics or take them to your local household recycling centre. Some councils offer kerbside collections for small items such as cameras or remote control units. Did you know that shops that sell electrical and electronic equipment must provide a way for you to dispose of their old household electrical and electronic equipment when you buy a new version of the same item?

Shopping on a Christmas budget, and reducing your carbon footprint are excellent holiday goals for all of us to develop new habits ready to continue during the upcoming year!

What about you – what steps will you be taking for a less wasteful Christmas this year?

Rachelle Strauss
Rachelle Strauss
Rachelle Strauss is founder of MyZeroWaste.com and ZeroWasteWeek.co.uk Both are leading websites for helping householders reduce landfill waste. Her work has attracted media stories and engagement in documentaries, film and radio both locally and abroad.

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