Christmas Waste – The Stats1, 6
277,000 miles of wrapping paper are wasted every Christmas;
125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is thrown away at Christmas;
5 million Christmas puddings are thrown away every year;
2 million turkeys are wasted around Christmas time;
1 billion Christmas cards are thrown out every Christmas;
74 million mince pies are thrown away;
250 tonnes of Christmas trees are thrown out every January;
13,350 tonnes of glass waste is thrown away at Christmas;
500 tonnes of old Christmas tree lights are thrown out every year;
4500 tonnes of foil is thrown out per year; and
16 million Christmas crackers are wasted.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… But according to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) estimates, Christmas is also the most wasteful time of the year8.
Statistics show that in the UK alone approximately 1 billion Christmas cards are thrown out after December 25th each year, 2 million turkeys are wasted around Christmas time and 74 million mince pies are thrown away1. So why do we break the bank during December, and then still continue to waste so much of what we buy? Perhaps it is from the stress of not having enough food to serve to family and guests and therefore overbuying, or perhaps it is that we don’t know how to make Christmas more sustainable. As it only comes once a year, studies show that people tend to discard their routines and lifestyle habits including health, fitness, work ethic and sustainability and substitute it for a more laid back or even lazy attitude. As a result of this, WRAP anticipate households in the UK to produce approximately 750,000 tonnes of extra waste at Christmas time, generating 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 in total8.
What are the effects of increased waste?
Case Study: Middlesbrough Christmas Fly tipping
Tips for a more sustainable Christmas
- The most important method is to PLAN ahead to ensure no over-buying and over-spending and therefore less waste.
- Shred your wrapping paper to use as protective material for future fragile gifts6.
- Wrapping paper also works well as cleaning material for windows and mirrors6.
- Cut out the picture/pattern on your Christmas cards to use as gift labels, or as arts and crafts materials6.
- Use LED lights for Christmas trees which use up to 90% less energy than standard bulbs7.
- Consider sending e-Cards instead of paper ones – they can be more personalised and much more sustainable7.
- Use an artificial tree as opposed to a real one7.
- Reuse leftovers rather than throwing them away. You don’t have to eat a roast dinner or turkey sandwich every day in January, there are a number of Christmas leftover recipes including those listed on the BBC website: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/christmas-leftovers
- If you aren’t able to prevent or reuse waste, reduce the amount send to landfill disposal by recycling and separating compost waste.