Tips to reduce, reuse and recycle more this Christmas
Helen Curtis, Eleanor Temple, Karen Morecroft, Charlotte Thompson-Grant
3 December 2020
The green impact team have many 'litter rarely' qualities...and this month they turned their writing talents to making this practical list of things you can do to help reduce waste and give a gift to the future by having a more environmentally friendly Christmas.
Reduce this Christmas
- Avoid giving presents with excess packaging, and find out what people really want. In the run up to Christmas, here are 12 easy ideas to a Sustainable-ish Christmas: https://www.asustainablelife.co.uk/12-easy-ideas-for-a-sustainableish-christmas/
- Try to buy cards and wrapping with no glitter, or better yet, send an e-card from your favourite charity - there are lots out there, like from Friends of the Earth: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/take-part/send-ecofriendly-ecard
- Have a go at making your own decorations, presents or cards. Use 100% recycled or FSC-certified Christmas cards and use 100% recycled or FSC-certified wrapping paper, old newspaper or brown paper and use string or raffia (made from bark which regenerates) to tie it up or use paper tape (plastic free) that can be recycled.
- Or try something different called Furoshiki: gift wrapping with textiles or a scarf. The gift wrap can be saved and reused by that person at any time during that year to wrap with.
- Resist buying plastic decorations. Decorate your house with holly, ivy & mistletoe.
- Use LED Christmas lights and turn them off when you leave the room.
- Choose a real Christmas tree from a sustainable source (https://www.christmasforest.co.uk/pages/christmas-tree-sustainability) and recycle it afterwards, or buy a preloved artificial tree
- Choose Fairtrade chocolates for gifting - try your local Oxfam shop
- Defrost your freezer before Christmas to increase energy efficiency and save all that leftover food.
- Give locally sourced gifts which will last (https://libguides.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/OxfordLocal or see here for some amazing gift ideas from the Said Business School). 'Experience' gifts are also a perfect choice or have a look at these charity gifts that 'give back': https://www.you.co.uk/charity-christmas-gifts/
- Turn down your thermostat by 1 degree and get out that Christmas jumper!!
- You could order your Christmas food from https://www.waste2taste.co.uk/ They provide affordable and ethical food throughout Oxford focussing on a vibrant, healthy and sustainable food culture with a commitment to reduce food waste
Re-use this Christmas
- Get creative and make gift tags from last year's Christmas cards (use pinking shears to cut out small pictures/ icons)
- If you fancy a change from your old Christmas decorations, do a swap with a friend or do some Christmas DIYs and upcycles. Have a look at this website for inspiration: https://www.pillarboxblue.com/amazing-repurposed-upcycled-christmas-decorations
- Re-use old calendar pictures and newspaper photo pages as wrapping paper
- Re-use fabric Christmas stockings for Santa to fill. Look in local charity shops for gift ideas.
Recycle this Christmas
- Check to see which recycling services are available to you this Christmas including your tree (if it’s a real tree): https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/environment-and-planning/waste-and-recycling/household-waste/reducing-waste-christmas
- Find your closest TerraCycle collection point where you can recycle items such as crisp packets: https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/
- All plain, paper-based wrapping paper that has bows, ribbons and sticky tape removed is recyclable, including 100% recycled wrapping paper.
- Simple, paper-based greeting cards with staples removed can also be recycled.
- Wet cardboard is difficult to recycle, so find somewhere dry to store any boxes and make sure all items are dry when they go into your recycling bin. Also break down your items – cardboard boxes quickly take up a lot of space and can be problematic with recycling machinery.
- Remember the scrunch test for whether you can put your used wrapping paper in the recycling.
Want tips for year round as well, then we've got you covered!
Tips on 'reducing' year-round
- Reduce unsolicited mail by registering with The Mailing Preference Service on mpsonline.org.uk and opt out of Royal Mail deliveries of unaddressed mail that is delivered to every household by emailing email@example.com.
- Consider using doorstep delivery services for organic vegetables, milk and other fresh produce - goods often come in little or returnable packaging. Try looking here to find a scheme: https://www.findlocalproduce.co.uk. Oddbox now delivers to Oxford, where you rescue odd and surplus fruit & veg directly from the farm and help save the planet
- Or, try buying unpackaged food from your local market, greengrocers or refill shop (Flo's in the Park, OxUnboxed, and many others around the country)
- If you're sticking with the supermarket there are less-packaged options for many foods that together could make a big difference to your recycling bin each week! Consider choosing: biscuits without plastic trays; loose fruit and vegetables instead of in punnets (don't forget to bring used bags with you); frozen fruit and veg (can be grown in season so is often greener in production, plus you can keep it for longer!); deli counter/frozen meat/meat-free products instead of those in plastic trays; and squash to dilute yourself rather than water-filled individual soft drinks.
- Once you've been shopping, be sure to use up your supplies before they go off - you may need to employ some creativity, but many recipes can be simply adapted to use alternatives.
- Buy solar-powered electronics where available, such as watches and garden lights.
- Choose products that can use mains power rather than batteries and use rechargeable batteries when appropriate.
- Consider growing your own vegetables - many varieties can be grown in small gardens.
- Prepare for summer with a water butt for your garden veggies (check out getcomposting.com for subsidised butts)
Tips on 'reusing' year-round:
- Donate unwanted furniture and appliances to a furniture reuse scheme, advertise them on Freegle, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or similar platforms, or simply leave them outside your house with a note if appropriate. In Oxford there are many charities that are grateful for unwanted furniture and lots will pick up the furniture from you.
- Get ideas from http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/reuse.html on reusing your household packaging and everyday waste materials
- Repair broken items rather than buy new ones. Here are some great videos on how to repair your clothes rather than throwing them away (including how to sew on a button!): https://repairwhatyouwear.com/
- Take old carrier bags to the shop with you to use again or use them as bin liners
- Donate unwanted clothing and small household items to charity shops and jumble sales.
- Reuse items wherever possible. For example yoghurt pots and egg boxes are ideal for growing seedlings; swap magazines with friends, or give them to surgeries for waiting rooms; scrap paper can be used both sides, for children's drawings, shopping lists or notes; Re-use containers like margarine tubs for storage of nails or colouring pencils.
Tips on 'recycling' year-round:
- Participate in any recycling service your district or borough council may offer from your home: https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/environment-and-planning/waste-and-recycling/household-waste
- If you can, compost your garden waste and vegetable peelings or take your garden waste to a recycling centre (check out getcomposting.com for subsidised compost bins).