Head of Product Sustainability at Magnet, Amanda Douglas, has provided six tips in order to have a sustainable Christmas this year including reducing grocery shops and ditching “cornerstone” Christmas items. “‘As more and more people become eco-conscious, there are some common switches people are making for the Christmas period - like opting for recyclable wrapping paper and switching to LED Christmas lights,” she says.
“Whilst these are great steps towards having a more green Christmas, there are lots of other little traditions that people may be unaware are damaging to the environment. By making other minor tweaks to your Christmas routine, it’s easier than you think to reduce your impact on the environment during your festivities.’’
Her tips include a controversial choice; ditching the cheap Christmas Crackers that have become a staple on every Christmas Dinner table. “Many people are unaware of how many Christmas crackers sold by retailers are not fully recyclable. Not only are the novelty plastic items found inside unrecyclable, but many crackers feature glitter or foil designs that make them unsuitable for recycling also,” Douglas says, saying that if you must have crackers, opt for DIY brown paper card kits instead and add your own trinkets.
Christmastime also has a tendency to see a lot of people buying more food that they need to, which Douglas says has a tangible damage often overlooked due to the focus on prices. “In 2018, food waste from households and businesses in the UK stood at around 9.5 million tonnes. This waste would be associated with more than 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention around 40% of food waste in the UK being disposed of via landfill.
“Resist the urge to impulse buy when you see goodies on offer. Instead, plan ahead and be realistic about how much food you need. Buying loose on items such as vegetables is a great little trick to help do this. Alongside minimising packaging, it makes you more aware of how much you are actually buying rather than grabbing pre-packed bags of an amount you may not even need. When you’re choosing your meat, dairy or other fresh produce, pay close attention to the use-by date.’’
The topic of leftovers is also another tip Douglas is eager to share with people: ‘’Incorrectly storing pre-prepared food for Christmas day or the leftovers following it, is another mistake people often make which results in further food waste contribution. Food stored properly will stay fresh for longer, and it will ensure that you can enjoy your festive leftovers days later.”
With many supermarkets ditching glitter being sold on their aisles, including its use on Christmas Cards and decorations, Douglas has instead suggested ditching plastic ornaments and decorations. Ditch the tinsel, she suggests, and instead use an array of foliage instead to dress up the home this Christmas. Just don’t forget also that cooking materials such as tin foil and cling film do as much damage as decoration so instead, invest in silicon mats or tin liners.
With a number of cities in the UK having to wait for their regular bin and recycling collections to occur, Douglas’ last tip could help squeeze the last of that Christmas clutter ahead of those revised collection dates. “Be sure to get into the habit of breaking [cardboard boxes] down to save space and ensure they go into recycling. The same goes for other valuable recyclables like milk cartons and bottles.”