It’s finally December, the month of twinkling lights, cosy jumpers, and eating ridiculous amounts of food, but it’s also the time of year where our waste goes through the roof.


During the festive season, we produce 30% more waste than usual, with supermarket plastics rising more than 900,000 tonnes in 2019 alone. Here are 10 ways to avoid producing unnecessary waste this Christmas.


Reducing your food waste


Every year in the UK, we waste approximately 7 million tonnes of food. During Christmas, 74 million mince pies, 5 million Christmas puddings, and 2 million turkeys are thrown away whilst still being edible, causing 270,000 tonnes of food waste in total during the festive period alone.


Many admit to buying more than they need on purpose during Christmas, motivated by fear of running out of food. To reduce your festive food waste this year plan out your Christmas shopping beforehand, consider how many people are visiting and their dietary habits, and stick to your shopping list. Research recipes for your leftovers to give them a delicious new life in the days after Christmas


Opt for eco wrapping


We all love to receive a beautifully wrapped gift with ribbons and a bow, but this ceremony of gift-giving includes non-recyclable wrappings due to glitter, ribbons, and plastics, creating a huge amount of waste. In the UK we use 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year, with over 83 square kilometres ending up in our bins.


To reduce your wrapping waste, you can swap to a recyclable or eco-friendly wrapping paper, with most brown paper being recyclable or compostable. Get creative with your wrapping by using old newspapers, magazines, or gift bags you already have, these will not only look great under the tree but help you reduce your waste this Christmas.


Rethink your Christmas Cards


Statistics say each person in the UK will send and receive 17 Christmas cards.  It takes 1 tree to make 3,000 cards, which means 1 tree is only enough for 176 of us to send cards to our loved ones. With over 1 billion Christmas cards ending up in the bin, this is equivalent to 33 million trees.


Reduce this waste by encouraging your friends and family to not send you a card, or by donating the money you would usually spend on cards to charity. If you do receive cards consider upcycling them, make your own Christmas cards and gift tags to save money as well as waste.


Try renting a Christmas Tree


Over 8 million Christmas trees are thrown away each year, with 14% of people binning their fake tree in any given year.


Consider renting a tree this year instead of buying a plastic one, with garden centres across the country offering this service. You rent a real tree from a company to enjoy it for the month of December, only to return it to continue to grow throughout the year.  Alternatively, you could buy a potted tree that you can use year after year.



Pick Natural Decorations


Natural decorations can look just as good, sometimes even nicer, than store-bought ones. Creating your own can also be a fun festive activity for the whole family.


Venture into your garden or surrounding areas to find things such as pine cones, fresh holly, and mistletoe to bring a festive feel into your home without polluting the planet. And a bonus? After you’re done with them, they can go back into the garden to be composted.


Tone down the glitter


We see glitter everywhere in the Christmas period, everywhere, but as popular as it is, it’s horrific for the environment. Glitter is effectively tiny pieces of plastic which often ends up getting washed down the sink. This means it’ll eventually end up in our oceans and rivers.


Although glitter is definitely not one of the main causes of plastic pollution, it can still build up in our waters. Avoid glittery make-up, decorations, and cards this year or try out eco-friendly, biodegradable glitter that won’t end up down the plughole.


Choose a refillable advent calendar


An advent calendar adds an extra bit of excitement to the Christmas countdown, with a little treat for each day of December, but disposable advent calendars are often packed with single-use plastic and packaging, causing unnecessary waste.


This year, try a refillable fabric or wooden calendar. Fill each little window with a sweet treat, miniature toiletries, decorations, or trinkets for the ultimate Christmas countdown, that you can use year after year.


DIY your gifts


Exchanging gifts is one of the many joys of the festive season, but often we find ourselves unsure our loved ones will like our gifts, with the risk of them ending up in the bin in a month’s time. Taking the time to make a DIY gift is a great way to reduce this risk and your waste.


Homemade cakes, biscuits, chutneys, and jams make a thoughtful present to really show you care, or an act of service, such as a chore voucher book, is kind to both the environment and your wallet.


Remember to re-gift or donate


If you’ve received a gift that doesn’t quite hit the mark, as 50% of us have, rather than letting it clutter up your home or end up in landfill, consider paying it forward by re-gifting or donating it.


If you’ve received an item of clothing, consider doing a clothes swap, that way you can enjoy a piece that is new to you, and your old gift won’t go to waste.


Shop with sustainable businesses


Rather than visiting a major retailer, consider shopping with a small or sustainable business this year. You will be guaranteed to receive an eco-product where the whole supply chain is ethical.

Shop from GoEthical this festive season, whether you have a specific product in mind, or you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas. Buy and sell sustainable, artisan, ethical, pre-loved and eco-friendly products at GoEthical.

Chat and connect with like-minded community members, and discover detailed listings for ethical and eco products from small sellers to well-known global brands for the personal touch this Christmas.

Download the GoEthical app to start supporting small businesses:

For queries please either email us on or call us on 020 8337 2175, we look welcome all to our community and forward to hearing from you.


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