You don’t have to be a Grinch to be green this Christmas

Carol Warwick, Planet Ark

Think about your environmental footprint at the most wasteful time of the year

Over the Christmas period we buy, eat and party more than at any other time of the year, producing a lot more waste. Our biggest purchases over the festive season are gifts, food and drink, and when you consider the packaging that goes along with these, it adds up to a lot of rubbish!

To help you reduce waste and save money this Christmas the team at Planet Ark is sharing ten top tried-and-true tips to help you celebrate in style and help the environment at the same time.

  • Partial to a nice dollop of custard or cream on your Christmas pudding? Most councils (over 80%) accept Tetra Pak cartons – check to confirm that your kerbside collection does. Then just flatten and pop them in your recycling bin.
  • If Santa brings you a new mobile phone this year remember to find a new home for your old one – whether selling online, giving away to family or by recycling through – precious materials like copper, plastic and aluminium can be saved from landfill. Unwanted computers, printers and iPads can also be recycled through and printer cartridges through
  • Postal and courier services go into overdrive for Christmas, delivering gifts, food and other supplies. Consider the packaging that comes with your purchases and if it’s not recyclable, contact the company and ask them to consider using a sustainable and reusable alternative like Woolcool, which is made from reclaimed wool wrapped in recyclable plastic sleeves, or newspaper.
  • Don’t forget to recycle popular Christmas-time items like foil baking trays, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes – all are commonly recyclable in kerbside collections. Soft plastics (like plastic shopping bags) can be dropped off at participating supermarkets. If you’re not sure what you can and can’t recycle in your area, visit to find out what to do with those extra Christmas recyclables.
  • It really is the thought that counts so why not surprise them with a homemade gift like jam, soap or an experience like a hot air balloon ride? For the book lover in your life keep them guessing and give them a blind date with a book. Simply buy a book from your local second-hand bookshop, wrap it in plain paper, then write down some intriguing clues alluding to the mysterious book inside.
  • The Christmas and New Year season is a great opportunity to de-clutter or to get stuck into that renovation project you’ve been putting off. Remember to donate quality items to your local charity or tip shop and book a recycling company like to collect waste wood, door and window frames, concrete, bricks, tiles and more.
  • If you’re sending paper Christmas cards or using gift tags, look for those made from 100% recycled paper, and remember if you can’t cut up and re-use old paper cards and tags, put them in the recycling bin so they can be turned into other recycled paper products.
  • Celebrations like Christmas dinner or parties can generate a lot of food waste – in fact around 40% of the waste that goes into our rubbish bins is food waste, and even more over  the festive season. When sent to landfill this creates the damaging greenhouse gas methane. Keep a lid on food waste by planning your festive feast, avoiding over-catering, and sending unavoidable food scraps to your compost bin or worm farm. And don’t forget to love those leftovers too!
  • Christmas is a perfect time to close the recycling loop by purchasing gifts from second-hand or vintage stores, or items that have been made from recycled materials. Pottery for the Planet makes beautiful reusable ceramic cups and only use recycled packaging to ship their products, and Oxfam sell rugs made from reclaimed cotton, wind chimes from recycled iron and glass, and placemats and jewellery made from recycled saris.

For more ideas check out Planet Ark’s directory of recycled products See also the story on page 2 about The Possibility Project which recycles safris from India into clothes for sale in Australia.

  • If you’re sharing a few drinks this Christmas, this is the best way to make sure the bottle and the bottle tops are recycled. Steel bottle tops should be put inside a steel can with the top squeezed shut so they don’t fall out. This way the tops won’t get lost and the steel is recycled.

For more advice on how you can have a very merry green Christmas visit

Leave a Reply