We have talked about food waste, Christmas shopping, decorations and how to not create mountains of garbage – but sometimes a little bit of waste cannot be avoided. Do not despair, we are here to guide you on all steps of your zero waste journey. And Christmas unfortunately is the time of tinsel and wrapping paper.
What couldn’t be avoided needs to go… somewhere. Right? And for 100 million bags of Christmas waste in the UK that ‘somewhere’ is the landfill.
The easiest waste to spare the landfill is your Christmas tree. We suggested to go with a potted tree that can be replanted in your garden or even on your balcony after Christmas but if you’reagainst it or simply don’t have any place for a potted fir, we highly recommend to not just throw it out now. The poor thing will need years to decompose and release methane with 25 times the potency of carbon dioxide. Instead, give your tree a new life by shredding it. If you cannot do that yourself, your local council might be able to help. Many have a local recycling scheme which turns trees into wood chippings or compost that can be used on parks and private gardens. This way, your old tree can help new plants grow!
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
But your tree is not the only thing that can be given another life: with New Year’s Eve right around the corner, we highly recommend using the leftover wrapping paper as confetti. The paper is already torn up from unpacking your Christmas presents, and the colourful pieces make for perfect confetti-material!
When it comes to recycling, not all local councils accept discarded wrapping paper. You should check with your nearest recycling centre beforehand, just to be safe. Usually, it is easy to determine whether paper is recyclable or not by doing the ‘scrunch test’. Just roll crumple the paper up into a ball and see if it springs back or holds its shape. Paper that is able to stay scrunched up is generally recyclable.
High-quality wrapping can also be reused for new presents. That is, of course, if you were able to hold back unwrapping your own present.
Your Christmas cards can generally be recycled as well. Just place them in your regular paper recycling bin after removing any embellishments, batteries or other non-paper ornaments. But you could also get creative with them and turn them into gift tags, calendars, thank you cards or other decorations.
And your unwanted gifts? Well, someone else might be happy to receive one of your homemade scarves and socks, or the generic shower gel you had under the tree this Christmas. Re-gift it, trade it in for a better gift, take it to next year’s Dirty Santa at the office. But don’t just throw it out. Of course, unwanted gifts can be avoided with some preparation.
Food For Thought
We know, we have already discussed food waste at length, so we’ll keep it short this time: we have to cut down on food waste, there is way too much of it. Especially around Christmas time, which should be about love and sharing. So, let’s use the Christmas spirit and donate the leftovers that couldn’t be avoided. Chop up your leftover fruits, nuts and stale bread for hungry birds and small animals. And of course, you can always create new recipes from your leftovers for yourself as well.