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  • Rebecca Stevens

How to improve your sustainability at Christmas

The Christmas season has begun. It is a time for fun, friends, family and food. And on top of all this, there are the presents - especially if you have children in the house. Over the festive period in the UK there is an estimated 30% increase in waste. Being sustainable doesn’t have to stop at this time of year. There are simple changes you can make that mean you won’t forgo all the Christmas fun. Here are three of them:

1. Ditch the glitter and think recyclable and reusable wrapping– brown parcel paper is recyclable whereas lots of shiny, glittery Christmas wrapping paper is not. The general rule is that wrapping paper that stays scrunched up when it is squished in to a ball can be recycled. Why not try decorating your own brown paper with stamps – either purchased or of the potato kind. Turn old Christmas cards into gift tags as I did as a child. Both of these double up as a children’s activity in the run up to the big day. Instead of using sellotape, use fabric ribbons instead that you might be able to use another time (if you’re around when the present is opened that is!).

2. Rethink your approach to presents – plastic is all around us at Christmas, particularly when it comes to presents. To avoid plastic toys, provide grandparents, family and Godparents with some plastic-free suggestions e.g. wooden toys, gardening sets to grow their own veg. Children also love memorable experiences – a day out to a place of their choice always goes down well. For adults, making homemade gifts is a lovely touch and very thoughtful. Instead of purchasing a ready-made hamper, could you make your own filled with homemade jams, chutneys or chocolate truffles? There’s no denying that present swapping has a feel-good factor to it but think whether you need to buy presents for everyone? Could you conduct a ‘Secret Santa’ among the adults you are sharing Christmas with? This has worked well with my siblings and siblings-in-law and reduces the number of items on the shopping list and last-minute panic purchases.

3. Planning your food shopping is key – food waste is one of the key contributors to Christmas waste. In 2017, 54 million plates of food were binned and 70% of us bought more food than we needed. It can be really difficult not to over buy when hosting numerous meals and with shops or services not operating as usual. To help reduce your food waste, try planning meals and writing shopping lists. Also don’t buy Christmas items just because it’s a tradition if no one actually likes eating them. No matter how organised and prepared you are, leftovers feature heavily at Christmas. If you’re hosting a large meal, invite others over for a leftovers lunch the next day. Think creatively about how you can use the leftovers during the next few days - turkey pies and risottos, cheeseboard macaroni cheese, soups. There are plenty of options. Try BBC Good Food and Jamie Oliver for inspiration.

These are just a few suggestions but I am sure you have your own ideas too. Enjoy the Christmas preparations and celebrations!

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