Top tips for a greener Christmas
If every Christmas tree bought in the UK every year was put end to end, they would span the distance of a return trip to New York City from the UK. Combined with 4,500 tonnes of tin foil, 13,500 tonnes of glass and enough wrapping paper to wrap around the equator nine times, the amount of waste produced over the festive period is a serious cause for concern.
Figures from Wrap (Waste and Resources Action Programme), the government-funded body that promotes recycling, show that England’s households create nearly three quarters of a million tonnes of extra waste at Christmas, amounting to five black bin bags per household.
What’s more, the body estimates that the extra festive household waste created is equivalent to generating 1.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, the same as producing enough energy to enable all households in Leeds and Doncaster to watch TV for a year.
Figures from writer and editor Carolyn Fry have revealed that small household generally throws out two extra black bags of rubbish at Christmas, creating 14.4kg of waste, generating 26.4kg of carbon dioxide. A medium household throws out five extra bags, creating 36kg of waste and generating 66kg of CO2, while a large house disposes of eight bags, equivalent to 57.6kg of waste or 105.6kg of CO2.
The issue of excess waste goes beyond the consumer, starting early in the supply chain at the raw materials stage and continuing far after the disposal stage. But there are certain actions that households can take to make the festive period more environmentally friendly, dramatically reducing the amount of waste that is put out.
In this post, we will explore ways in which households can dramatically reduce the amount of waste they generate over Christmas.
- Make the most of your council doorstep collection service
- Find out where your local recycling facilities are and use them
- Empty tins of biscuits can be recycled through local bottle banks or in doorstep collections that accept metal cans
- Cardboard sections from selection boxes, packets of stuffing and games/toy boxes can be recycled through cardboard doorstep collection services and at paper banks
- Don’t forget the little things – foil from mince pies can be recycled
- Fruit and vegetable peelings can be added to your compost bin
- Don’t forget that empty bottles of household cleaner – they can also be recycled via your doorstep collection service, or plastic bottle banks
- You can also recycle your tree after Christmas, although only a small number of people actually do so.
If you are having family members around for Christmas dinner, it’s a good idea to adopt eco-friendly habits. Let everyone know that you want to recycle, and inform everyone where the best place is to put their waste.
Christmas can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Going into the festive period with a plan about what you want to recycle means you can avoid additional stress further down the line. Just don’t forget to enjoy it!
By John Haken, Director, WF Denny