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Christmas is a time for family, friends, gifts and, of course, food and drink. However, all that feasting comes at a hidden cost to the environment. To add all this up, here’s a list unveiling some common sources of waste during Christmas and a few nifty ways to tackle them. 

Christmas wine

In the UK, an estimated 13,350 tonnes of glass are thrown away over the festive period, a lot of these are wine bottles. That’s enough to potentially fill over 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

As people become increasingly aware of the importance of reducing waste, there are some easy ways to cut down on your glass usage this Christmas.

Let’s toast to new habits. Reusable wine glasses are a great way to tackle waste and can be found cheaply at many stores. Also, consider using paper cups instead of glassware if you’re throwing a Christmas party. If you end up with some wine bottles to recycle, ensure you wash them out first to prevent contamination. We can all help reduce our environmental impact this holiday season by making small changes. 

Glass is one of the most widely used recyclable materials. At Bywaters, we dispose of glass through our sustainable facilities and partners. Click here to find out more!

Christmas cards 

According to a recent study, approximately one billion Christmas cards are thrown away every year. That number is staggering, especially considering the resources that went into making those cards. For example, it would take the equivalent of 33 million trees to make that number of cards—trees that could have been used to help offset carbon emissions or provide homes for wildlife.

In response, try to buy cards printed on FSC-certified, recycled cards. These are made from materials that would otherwise be thrown away. They can be recycled again after having served their purpose.

Better still, go for the personal touch and make your own from recycled material. When it comes time to dispose of your used cards, remember, just like wrapping paper, cards decorated with glitter or foil can’t be recycled. These can be repurposed to make a creative greeting card. By taking these simple steps, we can all help reduce our holiday celebrations’ ecological footprint.

Christmas lights 

Christmas lights are a staple of the holiday season but can also be a major source of waste. Every year, 500 tonnes of Christmas lights are discarded in the UK, and the vast majority aren’t recycled. This type of waste is a significant environmental problem, as most Christmas lights contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the soil and water. Furthermore, manufacturing new Christmas lights requires large amounts of energy and resources. As a result, the best way to reduce the environmental impact of Christmas lights is to recycle them. You can also switch to LED lights to use up less energy. Moreover, several reuse schemes are available, or you can take them to your local recycling hub. Additionally, you can even check if your local hardware store accepts them! 

Mince pies 

At Christmas, the whole country loves to indulge in a mince pie or two. This jolly treat causes a festive frenzy, with nearly 800 million mince pies consumed over the year! Unfortunately, such high consumption levels result in over 5 tonnes of aluminium packaging waste – That’s aluminium enough make over 100 refrigerators! The results of curbing mince pie-fuelled waste could be huge; that’s why we need to consider our approach to festive packaging production and find ways to reduce plastic use at Christmas time.

Aluminium packaging would be classified under Dry Mixed Recycling (DMR). At Bywaters, we dispose of aluminium packaging through our sustainable facilities and partners. Click here to find out more!

How bad is food waste during Christmas? 

It’s no secret that the festive period is a time of excess. We overindulge in food while our homes get cluttered with new gifts and decorations. In the UK, we produce an extra 30% of rubbish during the festive period. This waste comes from various sources, including gift wrapping, Christmas cards, and discarded packaging. This waste adds to the growing problem of waste disposal, and puts a strain on already overwhelmed recycling facilities. The good news is that there are steps we can all take to reduce our environmental impact this Christmas. For example, we can choose more sustainable materials for our gifts and decorations while being mindful of the amount of food we waste.  

According to recent estimates, 5 million Christmas puddings, 2 million turkeys, and 74 million mince pies are thrown away each year while still edible. These numbers are even more tragic when you consider that 1 in 5 people in the UK struggle to put food on the table. However, we can all take steps to reduce our Christmas food waste. For example, planning ahead and only buying the ingredients we need for our Christmas meal. Or, if we do have leftovers, get creative and use them in other dishes, or repackage them for friends, family or your local homeless shelter. By being more mindful of our food waste this Christmas, we can help to make a difference.  

What to do with Christmas waste? 

Christmas is a time for giving, but it can also result in a lot of unwanted waste. The environmental impact of this increased waste production is significant. From wrapping paper and gift boxes to holiday cards and Christmas trees, the amount of waste produced during the Christmas season can be staggering. Luckily, there are steps that we can all take to reduce our Christmas waste. Here are some clever ways to reduce this season’s waste: 

  • Utilise reusable wrapping materials such as fabric bags or newspapers. 
  • Gift boxes can also be reused or recycled.  
  • Another way to reduce waste is to send e-cards instead of traditional paper cards.  
  • Live Christmas trees can be replanted after the holidays, or artificial trees can be used for many years.  

Finally, try to buy less plastic during the holidays. Look for sustainable or reusable alternatives to disposable plastic items such as straws, cups, and plates. Following these simple tips can help reduce your household’s Christmas waste. 

At Bywaters, we deal with thousands of items during Christmas while educating many people on how they can better manage their waste. We are dedicated to your environmental needs and passionate about leading the way in sustainability. Get in touch today with our family to learn how we can help you through our robust waste management solution, tailored to better fit your budget and needs this festive season.

Some fun facts about Christmas in the UK…

Christmas is one of the most popular holidays in the United Kingdom, and several unique customs and traditions are associated with the festive season. For instance, did you know that the first Christmas cracker came about in the 1840s? Here are some more fascinating facts about Christmas in Britain: 

  • The custom of sending Christmas cards began in 1843 when Sir Henry Cole sent out greeting cards to his friends and family. The tradition soon caught on; by 1900, the custom spread across Europe.
  • Mince pies have been a traditional Christmas treat in Britain since the early middle ages. Initially, they were made with real meat, but nowadays, they contain only fruit. 
  • Boxing Day (December 26th) originated from the medieval practice of giving money or food to poor people on that day. Nowadays, it is a national holiday in the UK and is often used as a day for spending time with family or shopping. 

Most common Christmas waste in the UK 

According to a recent study, food is the country’s most common waste generated during Christmas. This includes both uneaten food and food that has gone off. Other common types of waste include packaging, wrapping paper, and cards. While this may not seem like much waste, there are several ways to reduce it. For example, one way is only to buy the amount of food that you need. Another is to donate unneeded items to charity. And finally, recycling is a great way to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill. By following these simple tips, you can help to make Christmas a more sustainable holiday for everyone.

How much food waste is there in the UK around Christmas? 

One study found that December alone accounts for about 30% of all annual food waste in the UK. Much of this waste is due to over-buying, as families attempt to prepare for the possibility of unexpected guests or cook more than they need. Other common causes of Christmas food waste include:  

  • Cooking too much
  • Failing to store leftovers properly
  • Letting food go off before it can be eaten

With so much waste occurring each year, it is essential to reduce the amount of food that ends up in the bin. One way to do this is to make a realistic shopping list and only buy what you need. Brush up on your creativity by using leftovers to make new and exciting dishes. We can all help reduce Christmas food waste by making small changes. 

You can be naughty or nice… But don’t be trashy. 

So there you have it…

A few simple ways that can help you reduce your household’s Christmas waste. Just by following some of these tips, you could make a real difference and help to keep our planet green! Have you tried any of these methods yourself? Let us know in the comments below. Merry Christmas and happy recycling!


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