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'Tis the season to reduce, reuse and recycle


During the festive period, the amount of waste we produce in the UK goes up by a third. These habits can be bad news for the environment, as food and packaging waste reaches its peak. 

Our top tips for having a green Christmas will help you to enjoy the festive season, and spoil yourself and your loved ones without spoiling the planet.

Plan your gifts

Don't give to landfill this Christmas. Poorly picked presents may be thrown away or not used. Save yourself shopping stress by planning ahead to make sure you select the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Choose presents with durability so that they can be enjoyed again and again, not forgotten after five minutes. And, of course, remember to take your reusable shopping bags out with you.

Green gift ideas

  • The gift of time - create some memories together and give your loved one a ticket to a show, event, dinner or a getaway instead of an item they might not use.
  • Buy preloved - second hand doesn't mean second best. Online marketplaces or high street stores that sell preloved items can be gold mines for finding the perfect present, and can be much cheaper, too.
  • Go reusable - reusable bottles, coffee cups and lunch boxes make excellent presents. They can be used all year long, help save your loved one money, as well as helping the environment.
  • Get crafty - can anything beat a gift that has been lovingly hand made?

All wrapped up

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.

  • Give presents in reusable gift boxes, bags or fabric instead of using gift wrap (this helps save you from all those evenings of last-minute gift wrapping as well).
  • Rather than send cards give the money you would have spent to a charity. However, if you do buy gift wrap and send cards, choose paper that is made of recycled materials and with no glitter so that it can be recycled afterwards.
  • Each year, one billion festive cards go to landfill, instead of being recycled.
  • Send e-greetings instead through social media, messaging apps and email.
  • Reuse decorations you already have, buy second-hand instead of new, or even make your own with friends and family - which will make Christmas extra special.

Festive feasts

Don't end up with food 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 or loving your leftovers visit the Love Food, Hate Waste website.

The big day…

  • Get prepared for the big day on Christmas Eve and have a recycling bag at the ready for when it's time to swap presents for any gift wrap or recyclable packaging.
  • Recycle wrapping paper if you can - check it is recyclable by doing the 'scrunch test' - ball it up in the palm of your hand and if it stays in a ball it can go in your blue-lidded bin, if it springs back flat it needs to go in the grey bin.
  • Make sure all of your guests know which one is the recycling bin and what can go in it by showing them the festive recycling guide (below).
  • Recycle all food waste in your caddies, not your grey bin. This includes cooked or raw vegetables, bones and skins, plate scrapings, tea bags and eggshells. Top tip: You can line your kitchen caddy with any soft plastic bag, compostable liner or newspaper.

Festive recycling guide

In your blue-lidded bin you can recycle:

  • Condiment jars (rinsed out)
  • Sweet tins and biscuit tubs and trays
  • Aluminium foil sweet wrappers, mince pie cases and trays (try to recycle aluminium foil in a tennis ball-sized lump if possible)
  • Food, drink and aerosol cans (empty)
  • Cartons (such as Tetra Pak)
  • Plastic and glass bottles
  • Wrapping paper and greetings cards (without glitter or 3D decorations)
  • Cardboard packaging

For more information on Christmas recycling, visit our Christmas recycling page.

For more information on recycling, visit our Bins and recycling page or call 01442 228000 and ask for Waste Services.