Does anyone else love Christmas but hate all the waste that goes with it? If so this is the blog for you! Reducing your waste at this time of year can seem daunting, but fear not, I have some top tips to help you avoid a rubbish Christmas! (See what I did there?) Not only can you help the environment by reducing your waste, you can save some much needed cash too.
1. Christmas cards
Sending electronic cards is a fantastic way to cut your waste at Christmas, and they are much more personal than shop bought cards. You could use a family portrait, a silly pet pose, a wintery scene - the possibilities are endless! If you’re really keen why not send a festive video message?
Inevitably you will still receive cards this year so why not make some upcycled Christmas card bunting to add a bit of festive cheer and sparkle around the house? It’s a great and fun way to reuse Christmas cards again and again.
2. Christmas decorations
How about making upcycled Christmas decorations this year instead of buying new? These can be made from materials found all around the home - don’t be afraid to look for ideas there are hundreds out there! They also make excellent gifts.
For example, these bottle top snowmen would make a great addition to any tree. You could combine them with these beautiful plastic bottle snowflakes too. Top tip – for bauble string cut off the ribbons used to hang up clothing!
If you don’t fancy making decorations, check out charity shops and exchange schemes (eg Gumtree, Ebay) – they’re a hidden treasure trove of undiscovered Christmas decorations calling out to be reused. Don’t forget your local Facebook sharing groups too.
My favourite decorations are these very cute upcycled cork reindeers – perfect for using up things that can’t be recycled! A really easy option is Christmas trees made from old books (obviously ones that no one else wants to read first!).
3. Christmas tree
Although an artificial tree can be used time and time again, it has to be used for 20 years before it becomes more environmentally friendly than a real one. However, cutting down millions of trees each year for them to be used for a matter of days is still extremely wasteful. So which is best?
How about avoiding this predicament altogether, try something completely different and make a Christmas tree out of stuff you already have! Check out some of these alternative upcycled Christmas trees designs for inspiration.
Why not buy your family and friends an experience rather than a gift this year? There are activities and treats out there for everyone, from paintballing to papermaking, you could find a fantastic memory for someone to enjoy. The bonus is these types of gifts come without the masses of wasteful packaging!
There are also lots of exchange sites, such as Gumtree, ebay, Facebook groups. where you could find someone the perfect preloved gift like jumpers, kitchen ware and gadgets. Not only is this likely a cheaper option, it reuses perfectly good items again rather than throwing them away.
Jazz up your gifts this year by wrapping them in old newspapers, magazines, comic books. It is really effective and reuses your old paper, plus the paper can be recycled afterward unlike many conventional wrapping papers! Toilet/kitchen rolls make great little boxes that you can personalise for small gifts. Use ribbons and bits of paper from old gifts to decorate!
Or you could fully embrace reuse and use one gift to wrap another, for example using a scarf, which is also part of the gift, to wrap the present. Furoshiki is the old Japanese tradition of wrapping presents in cloth which is used again and again – pretty neat!
I hope my top tips offer some inspiration for your waste free Christmas! You don’t need to stop here either, there are lots more simple yet effective ideas out there.
Have a great time being creative and share your own crafty tips with others.
Kiri Huddleston is Changeworks’ Waste Project Officer