News and events

14 ways to reduce waste this Christmas

Posted on Monday 27 November 2017

By Charlotte Hawkins, Volunteer Contributor

Christmas WasteAlthough Christmas is a time of giving and sharing, it can also be a time of huge waste. Christmas is associated with indulgence and abundance even for those of us who try to consider how we use resources during the rest of the year, but it's easy to find ways that cut unnecessary waste at Christmas too. Here are a few tips:


1. Eco-friendly gifts

  • True Food sells food and many personal care products that make great gifts, but if you're looking for something a bit different, there are many websites that sell eco-friendly gifts, some of them made out of recycled materials. If you're looking for inspiration, check out Green Tulip, Shared Earth and Cool Earth.

2. Re-use wrapping paper

  • Every Christmas the amount of wrapping paper thrown out has been estimated as 227 thousand miles - enough to stretch around the equator over nine times. Large sheets of wrapping paper, carefully folded, can be used again next year, as can presentation baskets or boxes.

3. Don't by metallic gift wrap

  • Be mindful of what gift-wrap you're buying. Metallic gift-wrap, while looking pretty and seasonal, is not accepted for recycling by most councils, including Reading.

Xmas card tags4. Make gift tags out of old Christmas cards

  • Cut the pictures from your Christmas cards before throwing them into the recycling bin - they make great gift tags for next year and is a fun way to entertain the kids before they go back to school.

5. Complain about over-packaging

  • Over-packaging of goods is actually illegal. If you feel packaging has been excessive, take the time to complain, as together we can make a difference. INCPEN will tell you the best organisation to contact.

6. Make sure your Christmas tree doesn't end up in landfill

  • If you have a real tree at Christmas, afterwards make it the start of a new years' composting resolution. Alternatively, many councils offer waste-disposal schemes for Christmas trees over January so they are not put into landfill.

7. Make recycled festive decorations

  • Rather than buying special craft materials over Christmas, give the kids old decorations that you no longer put out and unused wrapping materials such as tinsel, baubles, ribbons and bows to create their own festive decorations. If you need to buy new decorations, consider buying them from eco-friendly providers who use recycled goods wherever possible.

8. Make a festive wreath

  • Festive wreaths can be easily constructed from garden greenery - the traditional way! Have a go at making your own rather than buying something to put on your front door.

Food waste

A large part of the waste understandably comes from food, with many people entertaining friends and family at this time of year.

A shocking £64 million worth of food is thrown away on Christmas day alone.

9. Stick to the list

  • Even the most frugal of us often over-buy at Christmas. The best way to avoid this is to write a list of what you need and stick to it.

10. Celebrate "leftovers" day

  • If you're having guests over the festive season, it is likely you will have some food left over. Perhaps designate the day after your guests have gone as a "leftovers" day (I'm sure you'll appreciate the break from preparing meals too!). Use up the foods that can't be stored first and freeze what you can't get through now for use at a later date. Make sure you've reserved space in your freezer beforehand!

11. Don't ditch your desserts

  • Desserts are amongst the most frequently thrown out foods, and many of them are not suitable for freezing. Christmas cakeIf you want a choice, plan ahead to make sure at least some of your deserts can be kept for a week or two without going off. If that isn't possible, try to buy or make the smallest portions possible of each.

12. Get freezing

  • Many people are aware of obvious uses for some of the leftovers from Christmas dinner (turkey curry, anyone?), but even if you don't have time now, roasted root vegetables can be frozen to make a fantastic soup (just defrost and add to stock), and Brussels sprouts and potatoes can be frozen together to make colcannon. Once it's stir-fried together, you won't notice it's been in the freezer.

13. Get creative with giblets

  • Once you've cooked your turkey, rather than throw the giblets away once they have made gravy, remove any bones then throw it in the food processor with some garden herbs and leftover cranberry sauce and a glug of olive oil. Offal is highly nutritious so it's great to use it up by making a seasonally-flavoured pate with minimal effort, using food that otherwise would have gone to waste. You can add any bits of onion that have cooked with the turkey, and a few dried mushrooms to add  depth of flavour. This freezes well. Our expert recipe writer Diana has some great tips for use of the rest of the turkey!

14. Make, re-use and buy loose

  • Aside from the food itself, many Christmas foods come with an abundance of packaging. Mince pies for example are often in foil, in a plastic tray, then cellophane, then a cardboard box. Try making your own or buy them loose from True Food or a bakery. Tin foil used to bake the turkey can be wiped down and then used to wrap or cover meat going into the freezer.

True Food encourages shoppers to buy only as much as they need to avoid waste as much as possible. As individuals, let's work together to help save our planet for future generations - undoubtedly the best Christmas gift of all.

Return to headlines