Christmas unwrapped

Christmas gifts in colourful wrapping and bows

Matthew Homer and Janice Grant of Islington Council’s recycling team share their tips and tricks for a climate-friendly Christmas

  1. When it is coming up to its use-by date, put food in the freezer as it slows down the clock. Don’t forget to put a date on the top when you put it in the freezer to keep track of things.
  2. Have a pact with friends and family on a maximum spend for each other. Don’t cheat because it’s hard – you’ll regret it later!
  3. If you have a large family, put everybody’s name into a hat and take it in turns to draw from it – then only buy that person a gift. It can be a secret or not. That way you are not tempted to buy gifts and plastic toys that end up in the incinerator by Easter (or Boxing Day).
  4. Reduce waste by giving the gift of time: a family get-together, or a promise to weed the garden. Best to put a “will be completed by…” on that one! Alternatively, why not pay for a tree to be planted on a loved one’s behalf?
  5. Only buy wrapping paper that you can recycle or reuse afterwards. Scrunch paper up into a ball and those that stay scrunched up can be recycled. Save ribbons for reuse.
  6. Use OLIO, the free sharing app, to give away any food or gifts you can’t use to your neighbours and help stop wastage.
  7. Consider an artificial Christmas tree that you can reuse for years to come. If you must have a real tree (the smell of pine is gorgeous!), make sure you know the council’s arrangements for composting and where you need to place your tree for collection.
  8. Buy unpackaged veg where you can, that way you only cook enough for the people who will eat them. I love brussels sprouts for example, but they are not a family favourite! It saves on plastic packaging, too: look for a paper bag to weigh them in rather than plastic.
  9. Stay away from false offers. Buy one get one free (BOGOF) often means buy one, throw one away.
  10. Make sure you have extra recycling and compostable bags in at Christmas. That way you don’t risk anything going to waste that could have been recycled.

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