Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays in the UK - and one of the most wasteful. Estimates show that in the UK alone, around one hundred thousand tonnes of plastic packaging will land in the landfill this festive season. Add the massive surge in online shopping to that which pretty much all comes in wasteful packaging. The waste isn't just from single-use packaging and wrapping, over 21 million people receive unwanted gifts that are banished to the landfill because it's more expensive for retailers to sort and put back on the shelf for resale than to chuck them altogether. Shocking, we agree!
It is, however, possible to enjoy the festive time without producing mountains of this waste. Read on for some tips to go zero-waste.
We know, you've heard this one before, but we cannot emphasise it enough. It's tempting to order all of your presents from Amazon this year. Apart from insane carbon emissions and inexplicable plastic wrapping, Amazon might not even give you the best price as is commonly perceived. They practice something called price discrimination, where the prices they show you fluctuate depending on how many times you search for something or where you live - in other words, they can sense your desperation and vulnerability. This practice isn't illegal. Immoral, on the other hand?
Instead, how about visiting your local high street instead to support small businesses? You can be sure that the price is legit, you can say no to unnecessary wrapping and the money goes to a small family-run business. Lots of businesses are operating an online shop or click-and-collect option to avoid being around throngs of people. While many small businesses had to close their doors thanks to the pandemic, there is a growing trend of timely pop-ups that showcase small businesses and new brands. You can also search for sustainable pop-ups in your local neighbourhood and doubtless, you will find some without much trouble.
Shop local for your Christmas feast too! The experience of food shopping during this period is going to be much more delightful in your local farm shop than in the busy supermarket.
Give zero-waste gifts
This year has made it clear that there is nothing more meaningful than spending time with the family. Give experiences that are long-lasting rather than the ephemeral joy of physical goods.
This year, why not sign up the lockdown cook for an online cooking class?
How about a staycation with the family to recharge (who doesn't need that after the year we've had). Canopy and Stars offer an amazing selection of unique places to stay in the UK. You're in luck if you fancy staying in a treehouse.
Help the burgeoning Picasso hone their skills with an online art class. The Royal Academy of Artsis offering a variety of online art lessons - and guess what, your location doesn't matter.
For the avid book reader, Hand Me Down Book Club offers a personalised book subscription and they're on a mission to save 100,000 books from the landfill this year! No books wasted and you can choose from several bundles that range from just two books per bundle to twenty!
Quality over quantity is key here, guys!
Eco-friendly gift wrapping.
Wait before you reach out for the cutest wrapping paper with 3D snowfall and fairy sparkles on it. Pretty much all wrapping paper and ribbons are non-recyclable because they're dyed, laminated and contain additives such as gold and silver that are impossible to recycle.
And the paper that could have been recycled, gets chucked with plastic tape on it and is therefore not recyclable. If it's covered with glitter, pleasing to the eye as it may be, it won't get recycled. Glitter is plastic and can't be recycled even at professional facilities. It very quickly ends up from your pretty gift wrapping washing up into our streams, oceans and soil as a microplastic. We think glitter should also get banned along with microbeads as in principle they have the same effect on the planet.
Instead, use kraft brown paper for a classic look, or better yet, use old newspapers for wrapping. Put it together with plastic-free tape which is very easy to find on Etsy or online at a zero-waste store. Get your kids in doodling on the craft paper as well, which will add a personal touch to this year's gifts.
For a festive feel, make Christmas decorations with dried citrus garlands or decorations for your tree! Cut your oranges, lemons and grapefruits into thin circles and roast on 120C for about 2-2.5 hours. Use twine to loop them together for a vintage look.
Give the gift of plastic-free cleaning
Who hasn't spent a good part of their year cleaning their homes? Would you believe that there is a global shortage of plastic pumps, sprays and bottles? We know that people are cleaning more, but all the single-use plastic containers are getting chucked into the bin and end up in the oceans and landfill. There's absolutely no reason for that. Give the gift of plastic-free living to your loved ones. They will love you for introducing them to a low-waste lifestyle, especially when the product smells like fresh flowers and works wonders. See offers.
Lastly, don’t stress. Making a few changes is better than making no changes at all. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and a Happy New Year!
Words of Wisdom by Sofya Zakharova