Christmas can be a wasteful time of year with mindless overconsumption, food and plastic waste.
To help provide a little inspiration for the festive period we’ve teamed up with IDidSomethingGreen and put together the ’12 Days of Plastic Free Christmas’ for some eco-friendly alternatives and ways to waste less before, during and after the big day!
1 / Homemade Decorations
Decorations don’t have to be wasteful – what better than revisiting the same, nostalgic box of baubles every year and making them a part of your festive tradition! If you need something new, try making your own (edible decos are always a hit), go foraging for greenery or support local makers using sustainable materials.
2 / Plastic Free Christmas Cards
“1 billion Christmas cards will end up in bins – the equivalent of 33 million trees” – GWP Group
It can be heartwarming to receive a card in the post from a loved one, so why not opt for plastic-free cards?
Choose cards without glitter and loose with no plastic wrap. Enjoy making your own by hand to add a personal touch. Once Christmas is over, remember that cards with glitter or non-paper additions such as sequins and shiny textures can’t be recycled so remove the back and recycle separately. Why not keep the front of Christmas cards and use parts of them cut out to make next year’s cards?
3 / Meal Plan to Avoid Waste
Meal prep is key to knowing how much food to buy, and ensuring less food is wasted. The freezer is our friend – cook and freeze dishes for Christmas day so you don’t need to worry about making everything at once. Remember leftovers can also make tasty sandwiches, curries, soups and pies.
When food shopping, choose the loose fruit and veg, take your own mesh/cotton produce bags, and even take your own containers to the deli counters for meat, fish and cheese. It might be a daunting idea at first, but it’s a great way to reduce plastic packets and buy only what you need. Alternatively, check out some local businesses offering delivery options and find out if they use minimal plastic, some are offering such great, speedy and reliable services.
4 / Plastic Free Wrapping
There are lots of alternatives to glittery wrapping paper to make your gifts look festive and fun!
– Brown paper – decorate with stamps and drawings
– Use paper tape, twine, string or reuse ribbons to tie around gifts
– Make your own labels
– Use fabric gift wrap
– If you’re making a hamper, why not shred/cut/tear scrap paper to use as ‘stuffing’
Remember to do the ‘scrunch test’ if you want to test if paper is recyclable – if it says scrunched into a ball it means it’s recyclable.
5 / Remember Your Reusables
Planning to go late night shopping tonight? Don’t forget to pack a reusable coffee cup and shopping bags. We’re trying to support local as much as possible, whether that’s supporting local cafes or the high street, and we can aim to reduce unnecessary waste in small simple ways. Taking a bag when going into town shopping, or to the supermarket is a great way to do a little something for the planet.
Takeaway coffee cups can be avoided, just ask for your drink in your own cup. You won’t be sipping from disposable plastic and your festive drink will taste better too. If you don’t have one, why not enjoy the atmosphere, take in the moment and have it to sit in.
6 / Reusable Cloth Napkins
Cloth napkins are a great alternative to disposable ones. Either buy from a local small/sustainable business or make your own. All you need is some fabrics, (repurposing old fabrics or buying some that you like) and making a basic square or rectangular shape and sewing together – and they can be any size you fancy!
If you want to make them festive choose Christmas patterned fabric, then just pop them in the wash and put away with the decorations to reuse again next year.
This could be a lovely cosy activity to do at home or with friends and family in the lead up to Christmas Day.
7 / Shop Small and Local
Shopping small reduces the impact on the environment, supports our local businesses and those who need it by avoiding those big online retailers. Often local shops will stock locally made goods too which make great gifts and are more likely to consist of less plastic. If you don’t want to buy gifts why not make homemade gifts as a plastic free alternative?
8 / Homemade Mince Pies
Brits eat 175 million mince pies. Putting this in perspective, 1 million mince pie cases equates to 1 tonne of aluminium material. (source GWP) That’s not to mention the 74 million that are thrown away!
Homemade mince pies are a fun activity, put on some Christmas music and enjoy some home baking. When you make dough and the recipe says to ‘wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge’ instead use a beeswax wrap, or just put the dough in a bowl with a plate to cover. For half an hour or so chilling time, it’s not worth using plastic.
9 / Crackers
Crackers can be really wasteful, we’ve all been unlucky with those useless plastic items. Homemade crackers aren’t too difficult to make, we love @theglassisalwaysgreener toilet roll crackers! Reusing the cardboard roll and paper wrapping, but you could use any paper that you have or just some brown wrapping paper. You could even make your own paper hats!
10 / Slow Festive Fashion
Christmas is a time for dressing up, sequins and festive jumpers but did you know…
“1.7 MILLION sequinned items are binned after the Christmas party season but won’t ever biodegrade.” — HURR
The amount of plastic produced from the fashion industry is shocking, and not to mention the environmental issues caused from it and the mass that can end up in landfill or being incinerated. Re-wearing clothes you already own for Christmas instead of buying something brand new is a positive thing you can do for the planet this Christmas.
More advice on alternatives to fast fashion here.
11 / A Group Street/Beach Clean
Feeling full after Christmas dinners, puddings, and treats? Get moving, blow the cobwebs away and help our island by picking up some litter. Meet a group of friends, get the family together or simply take a bag with you when you walk the dog.
If we all pick up a few items of litter when we see it out and about, then it can make a big difference. We need to be aware of this especially when the weather is windy around Guernsey to prevent rubbish entering the ocean and drains.
12 / Reuse and Repair
When it’s time to pack everything away, if you have a fake tree, put it away and reuse it next year. If you no longer want decorations that are still good quality ask if anyone you know would like to have them, or take them to a charity shop. If something is broken try to repair it before throwing it away, and reuse it again next year.
Don’t forget to recycle what you can, take the non-recyclable glittery fronts off Christmas cards, sellotape off wrapping paper and eat up all your leftovers!
We hope these tips and ideas help to inspire you to have a more plastic and waste-free Christmas. Comment below if you have any more tips!