Well, it is that time of year again, and hasn’t it come round fast.
We all see Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also one of the most wasteful, creating a rise in the volume of waste materials being produced and disposed
of during this busy season.
Much of this, unfortunately, is sent to landfill where it damages the environment. With the Christmas period being full of tradition and celebrations, it is no surprise that it leads to a
monumental amount of waste being produced every time it rolls around.
The average UK adult is said to spend an estimated £330 buying Christmas presents, and the average child receives 15 gifts in total. With Christmas being celebrated in many countries around the world, and the world’s population standing at 7.6 billion people (as of Nov 2020*), that’s a lot of bubble wrap, wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and name tags that need to be disposed of after these gifts have been excitedly ripped open!
Then we add to this to the one billion Christmas cards being sold in the UK alone each year, and the 17.2 million Brussels sprouts that go uneaten, and that’s even more waste that needs to be disposed of correctly, and as environmentally-friendly as possible.
We in the UK create an estimated 30% more waste than usual during the festive period, and this includes an estimated two million turkeys and over six million Christmas trees.
A large percentage of this plastic waste also ends up polluting our seas and oceans when it’s blown away from landfill sites.
At Plastic Free Chesterfield, they pose the question: “What can we do?” So here are some of their more practical tips to help you reduce plastic and overall waste and save some money!
Instead of the disposable chocolate Advent calendars, which have the plastic chocolate holders inside that have become commonplace in many households, why not try a fabric calendar with numbered pockets or a wooden one that can be filled with chocolates, small gifts or messages.
These calendars can keep being used year on year.
Shiny wrapping paper looks great, but the shininess also makes it impossible to recycle. Instead, why not try plain brown paper jazzed up with fabric ribbon? Or, even better, seek out reusable options like fabric wraps or gift boxes and bags that can be used again next year.
Though do not get us wrong, we all love the foil and leaving fake snow for reindeer, but that’s before we all realised the impact it has on people, wildlife and the planet.
Unfortunately, it all turns into microplastics that enter the food chain.
But luckily there are lots of options to deck the halls without hurting the planet. Another way is to make your own decorations with loved ones. That could be making paper chains
and ornaments from old cards and wrapping paper or making your own wreath. It’s also really fun thing to do together as a family. Or as a family go on a nature walk and make your own natural decorations rather than buying new ones. Sprigs of holly and fir, twigs and branches, mistletoe and pinecones that are on forest or woodland floors make beautiful additions to your Christmas home. If you are feeling daring why not bake some decorations like gingerbread people and when the festivities are done eat them, NO WASTE!
Well, if you do have plastic decorations - keep using them, the key to getting it right is not to buy anymore but make your own.
This is my bain of Christmas as it is everywhere, on cards, gifts, wrapping paper, food etc.
Popular though it is, glitter is not good news for the environment. It’s effectively tiny pieces of plastic, which can end up being washed down the sink.
These eventually end up in our rivers and oceans. While glitter is definitely not one of the major causes of plastic pollution, it’s still plastic going into the ocean.
So, if you avoid glittery make-up and cards and stick to sparkles that won’t go down the plughole.
In the mad rush ahead of Christmas, don’t forget to take your reusable bags on your trip to the supermarket. Try and make it to the farmers market or greengrocer for those seasonal winter veggies. Get crusty loaves plastic free from the bakers, and take your own airtight containers for meat, fish and cheese. Also, if you can, go local and support the independent stores.
AVOID SINGLE USE TABLEWARE
Plastic plates and cutlery, while convenient for a Christmas, we are obviously out for a plastic-free Christmas, but even paper plates and napkins, which aren’t plastic items,
do come wrapped in single-use plastic, so will need to be substituted.
To eliminate plastic wrapping entirely, choose cotton or linen reusable napkins, and normal crockery that can be washed afterwards.
You can cut down on your plastic use when prepping food, using glass or enamel containers, which are more preferable than throwaway takeaway containers.
To keep the food fresh use the now readily available beeswax wraps instead of clingfilm.
So in closing, we hope you will try some of these alternative Christmas tips and if you are wanting any ideas for, refills or changes please go to the Plastic Free Chesterfield website or
FB page. We also want you share pictures of your Christmas changes so we can post them on all our social media outlets.
Looking back this year has been TRYING to say the least so with that in mind, lots of the things we have suggested can be done as families and spending this valuable time together maybe better than buying lots of gifts. Please think about this. We have one planet, let’s treat it to a good Christmas, by reducing our plastic usage and the waste that we create.
Happy Christmas From Plastic Free Chesterfield.