29 Nov 2023

Make 2023 an Eco-friendly Christmas – Why not Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle graphic

Around 30% more waste is created around the festive season (source: gov.uk), below are a few top tips to help you have an Eco-friendly Christmas and save you money!


Can we reduce the number of Christmas presents we buy in the first place?

An estimated £4 billion is wasted, that is over 60 million on unwanted gifts each year (gov.uk) One in three parents say an average gift lasts one month or less. Only a fifth (19%) say an average present lasts longer than one year.  Of those with unwanted gifts, less than a third (26%) recycle them and 11% say some are simply put in general waste (source:Wealthify)

Be mindful with the number of gifts you are buying. Why not give people a cherished experience, a trip to the zoo, afternoon tea or an escape room, something that they will remember and you have the chance of spending time with loved ones instead, or a homemade gift such as jam, cake or a scarf.

Consider donating a gift this year to a charity such as ‘Mission Christmas cash for kids’ Christmas for every child. That’s our mission. | Events – Free Radio (Birmingham) (planetradio.co.uk)  

Make sure any unwanted gifts, get donated to charities, local churches, playgroups or resold.

Over 1 billion Christmas cards are thrown away each year (source gov.uk) Instead of sending Christmas cards, why not donate to Crisis.org.uk to supply a homeless person with a hot meal. (Christmas Appeal 2023 | Donate to Crisis at Christmas | Crisis UK

If you are buying Christmas cards try to avoid sending those with glitter, or send an e-card from your favourite charity e.g.  https://friendsoftheearth.uk/take-part/send-ecofriendly-ecard

Christmas at home

Plan your meals in advance. So much food gets wasted over Christmas. Try to ensure you only buy what you will really need, plan to freeze left over food and any food that is surplus that would be thrown away, can be donated to local charities such as Feast with us (FEAST With Us).

Try to use natural products to decorate your home, instead of buying plastic decorations. Use LED Christmas lights and make sure they are always turned off when you leave the room.

Instead of using cling film, use covers, wax covers and microwaveable lids.

Turn your thermostat down by 1 degree and wear your Christmas jumper instead!


British households on average use four rolls of wrapping paper each, totalling around 108 million rolls per year, which equates to 50,000 trees. (source: wayst.co.uk)

Let us work together to reduce this figure.

Eco-Friendly Christmas Wrapping Paper Alternatives

Look around your house and you will discover all kinds of ways to wrap presents beautifully with less waste. Such as…

1. Fabric and fabric bows (take a look at clothing that is no longer fit for purpose.)

2. Old magazines

3. Other Papers – parchment, used envelopes in different sizes or brown paper bags, wax paper, tissue paper (recyclable)

4. Jars, tins, glass bottles

5. Cloth produce bags or fabric pouches

6. Baskets

7. Children’s Artwork

8. Boxes

9. Clay Flower Pots

10. Supermarket produce trays

Consider saving any Christmas wrapping, gift bags, accessories that you could re-use to wrap your gifts the following year or use for arts and crafts.

Also save yogurt pots, egg boxes etc for growing seedlings in the spring, margarine tubs for storing leftovers in your freezer and swop books and magazines with friends.

‘Your clever monkey has some amazing ideas to recycle your ‘Christmas rubbish’ 15 FUN WAYS TO REUSE ALL THAT CHRISTMAS RUBBISH | your clever monkey


Remember the ‘scrunch test’! Simply put, if you can scrunch up a piece of wrapping paper—that stays scrunched up—it is likely safe to recycle. If the paper bounces right back to its original shape, though, it is not safe to recycle.  So, try and buy wrapping paper that can at least be recycled.

‘Real’ Christmas trees can be recycled and turned into chippings. Local authorities have drop-off or collection services or contact a local charity such as St Richard’s Hospice. Christmas Tree Collection – St Richard’s Hospice (strichards.org.uk). You can always compost your tree, cut it for firewood or if you have room, replant in your own garden.

Natural materials such as wreaths, ivy, fir cones, holly etc can be composted if they do not have any glitter, or add to your ‘green’ waste bin.

Recycle cards and envelopes in your normal recycling bins, if they have not any glitter, bows etc or consider cutting up cards to re-use as gift tags.

You can also recycle broken fairy lights at recycling centres in the ‘small electricals’ area.

Why not make your own Christmas crackers from toilet roll holders and old magazines and fill with sweet treats instead of plastic gifts?

Small changes help have a big impact on contributing to an Eco-friendly Christmas, more recycling tips can be found below.

Recycle right this Christmas | Recycle Now

Many of the websites stated are based in the West Midlands, but check out local resources as there will be similar options.

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