Monday, 16 December 2013

We all know Christmas creates waste, but what can you do about it?

You're up to your knees in wrapping paper, there are cardboard boxes strewn all over the place and that doesn't even compare to the groaning mountain of packaging, cans and bottles clogging up the kitchen. When confronted with such a deluge of discarded material, it's tempting to stick it all in a bin bag and hope it goes away. After all, where can you take those broken Christmas lights and that sad looking Christmas tree when the festivities are over? 

Looking at some statistics produced by Recycle Now, it's breathtaking that the UK used approximately 364,700 km of wrapping paper last year. This is enough to stretch around the equator 9 times.  

So what can you do with all this waste? Here are some tips to keep your Christmas eco-friendly...

Wrapping paper

The fun option: After sifting through many ideas, ranging from making next year's Christmas cards to using it to line drawers, i'm certain that you can find a use of your own for any especially lovely wrapping paper you can't let go of just yet. Here's the best list of ideas I could find, via Instructables. 

The 'get rid' option: After it's been ripped open and chewed by the dog, you may just want to get rid. It can go into your normal kerbside paper bin to be collected, however it's worth checking your council website to make sure. 

Christmas Tree

The fun option: There are some great tips and tricks from for those who have time and a garden (or friends with allotments etc). Involves putting various parts of the tree to good use. 

The 'get rid' option: Look out for flyers or a sticker on your wheelie bin telling you when and where council collection will take place. It's likely that there will be a communal area where you can drop off your tree in January. The mulch from the trees can be used in local parks and woodlands, so make sure you don't miss the pick up date. 

Broken Christmas lights 

The fun option: If they work, sell them or pass them on. Otherwise, there isn't much fun to be had with this tangled mass. 

The 'get rid' option: Look at the plug or battery pack on the lights. If it has a crossed out wheelie bin it means it can be recycled. Your best bet is to use to find your nearest bring bank or recycling centre. Also, you can search 'WEEE recycling *insert location here*' and it's likely that you will easily find somewhere to discard of your lights in an environmentally friendly way. 

Excess Bottles, Paper and Cardboard

The fun option: obviously there are various things that can be done with these common household wastes. For example you can use cardboard boxes for storage, make some liquor lamps or get even more creative with these ideas.

The 'get rid' option: Visit for fact sheets on how to recycle these items. Kerbside collection normally does the trick, however if your bins are overflowing you may want to find your local bring bank for any excess. 

Food Waste

The fun option: This is a hot topic right now, with the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign in full swing and spin offs such as The Pig Idea gaining lots of media attention. Firstly, really think about how much you need using  Secondly, think of some ways in which you plan to deal with leftovers. Aside from turkey sandwiches, here are some recipes for typical 'eyes bigger than stomach' scenarios and here is a fun advent calendar full of waste saving tips.

The 'get rid' option: Unless you have a compost bin or a dog, it can be difficult to get rid of food waste. Some councils have handed out food waste caddys for kitchens, however not all households benefit from this scheme. This means it's even more vital that planning takes place so all that delicious food is eaten or composted and not binned!

Artificial tree, duplicate gifts or old stuff that has been replaced by shiny new things? Ebay, charity shops or friends and family are your best bet for passing it on in an eco-friendly way. 

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