The ’12 Wastes of Christmas’ – tips to reduce waste this Christmas
Christmas has traditionally been a time of celebration and somewhat over-indulgence. Images of a Christmas tree shining with lights and baubles and a roaring fire with stockings hanging from the mantel are brought to mind. However, in our endeavours to make our homes festive and our stomachs full, we can overlook the amount of waste that the festive season brings.
Figures from Repak show that in Ireland, our packaging waste increases by up to 25% over the holiday season, with a staggering 74,000 tonnes of used glass, paper and cardboard being produced (that’s 44 kilos of waste per household!).
We get through 6 million rolls of wrapping paper, 50 million bottles of beer, 51 million beer cans, 3 million spirit bottles, 23 million wine bottles and 20 million soft drink cans. But it’s not just the packaging waste, the amount of food waste increases significantly as well, particularly for foods that are deemed traditional but not always relished at the Christmas Table. Another growing issue is the surplus of gifts at Christmas and the waste these also produce. With Deloitte research showing nearly 6,000,000 gifts go to children and WEEE Ireland estimating that there are over 20 million waste batteries lying in households on Christmas Day alone, the statistics for our small population are mounting… and that’s without considering all those pairs of unwanted socks!
So, how can we help eliminate this excess waste without dampening our yuletide cheer?
- Give your loved ones a gift of an experience, such as tickets to a show, a canal boat ride, flying lessons or wildlife watching.
- Give a gift you make yourself, such as jams, chutneys and mince pies. Re-use the wool from old jumpers to make new ones.
- Avoid buying over-packaged items and re-use existing gift bags, wrapping paper or ribbons.
- Personalise the gift by making the wrapping yourself. For example, re-use fabric for wine bottle bags or newspaper for wrapping and paper bows.
- Make your own Christmas crackers from toilet or kitchen rolls or your own decorations using old jars, bottles, fabric and newspaper. Pinterest has lots of great examples and it’s a great way to get the whole family involved.
- Upcycle your old Christmas decorations to match your new décor.
- Re-use and upcycle biscuit and sweet tins and glass jars and bottles to use as storage containers the rest of the year.
- Use rechargeable batteries and ensure any regular batteries are recycled. Many local supermarkets, libraries and WEEE collection centres have collection boxes.
- If you have a real Christmas tree, please recycle it at a designated tree recycling centre.
- Recycle plastic, cardboard and paper that cannot be re-used and use bottle banks.
- Make delicious meals using leftovers, including nutritious soups and chocolate brownies with cranberry sauce.
- Heading out for that seasonal cuppa? Don’t forget your reusable coffee cup.
Another bonus to reducing your consumption is also the savings on your wallet… now that’s something we can all be cheerful about.