Green Christmas guide

Christmas may be the season to be jolly, but it’s also one of the most wasteful times of year, with an additional 30 per cent of waste created each festive season. But you don’t need to be a Grinch to have a Green Christmas. With our top tips to help you reduce, reuse and recycle, you can spoil yourself and your loved ones without spoiling the planet.

Festive feasts

The UK throws away around two million turkeys each year, along with 74 million mince pies!

  • Avoid overspending on your Christmas food shop and having too many leftovers after the festive period is over. Design a meal plan and then write a list of the ingredients so that you only buy what you need.
  • For tips on planning perfect portions, correct storage, recipe inspiration, or how to love your leftovers, visit the Love Food Hate Waste website.
  • If you do end up with spare food, you could give it away on food sharing app Olio.

Sensible shopping

  • Remember to always take your reusable shopping bags out with you.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you select the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Poorly picked presents can go unused or even get thrown away. Choose presents with durability so that they can be enjoyed again and again - quality over quantity.
  • Avoid battery-powered gifts and toys. The energy used to manufacture a battery is around 50 times greater than it gives out. And between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes of batteries are wasted in the UK each year. Use mains, go for rechargeable appliances, or buy a reusable battery charger.
  • Avoid over-packaged gifts wherever possible.
  • Shop local wherever possible to support your local economy and keep your carbon footprint low.

Green gift ideas

  • Go reusable - Stylish reusable bottles, coffee cups and lunch boxes make excellent presents. They can be used all year long and will save your loved one money, as well as helping to save the environment.
  • The gift of time - Create some memories together and give your loved one a ticket to a show, event, dinner or a getaway.
  • Get thrifty - Second-hand stores can be gold mines for finding the perfect present, and are often much cheaper, too. Herts WasteAware's Shop Local page has a list of second-hand shops in the county.
  • Get crafty - Can anything beat a gift that has been lovingly hand-made?

Christmas sparkle

Season's greetings

  • Each year, one billion festive cards, which could have been recycled, go to landfill.
  • Send Christmas wishes via social media, text or email instead of sending greetings cards - or pick up the phone for a proper catch-up.
  • If you do send cards, pick ones made from recycled materials, with no glitter or 3D decorations. Look for cards that don't come wrapped in plastic and that donate to charity.

That's a wrap

  • More than 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper is used in the UK each Christmas - that’s enough to wrap around the equator nine times!
  • Save yourself the stress of last-minute wrapping and use gift boxes and bags instead. These can then be used again each year.
  • You could even try Furoshiki, the Japanese-style of gift wrapping that uses large pieces of cloth to create simple and elegant gift wrappings. Bento bags are another reusable option that double up as an extra present.

Deck the halls

  • Reuse decorations you already have.
  • Buy second-hand instead of new.
  • Make your own decorations with friends and family - which will make Christmas extra special. Websites such as Pinterest provide great inspiration for Christmas crafts. 

Tis the season to recycle...

Our Christmas recycling guide tells you all you need to know about what can go in each bin, as well as information on festive bin collections and how to recycle your real Christmas trees.

  • On the big day, be prepared - have a recycling box or bag at the ready when it's time to swap presents so you can put all wrapping paper and recyclable packaging into it.
  • Check out Santa’s Scrunch Test, which will help you determine if your wrapping paper is recyclable or not. If it isn't recyclable, you could flatten it out and reuse it again next year.
  • If you have guests over, make sure all of them know which one is the recycling bin and what can go in it. Our Christmas recycling guide can help you with this one.

Thank you for learning more about how you can make your festivities as green as possible. The Environmental Services Department would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

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