Reduce, Reuse and Recycle this Christmas

  by Guy Tallentire

Christmas is a time of happiness and joy for many and during the festive season, we often indulge in the luxuries in life. A Christmas tree with all the accessories; a massive turkey with all the trimmings and so much more.

During the festive season, the environmental impacts of our behaviour are often forgotten. Is there anything you think you could change this year to green your Christmas?

Making a few small changes at home or at University is all it takes! These changes can be just for Christmas but my hope is that they will be forever and that you can spread the word and encourage others to take steps towards greener behaviour. No one is perfect but a few little changes can reduce what goes to landfill, making you a far happier person with a smaller carbon footprint!

My ideas for all out there are to reduce your food waste and recycle as much as you can during this festive period. In the UK, we waste around 230,000 tonnes of food just over Christmas; that food is worth about £275 million. Food waste increases by 80% over the Christmas period so it is an issue which needs to be addressed.

Plan your meal to stop food going to waste

Everyone gets merry and perhaps over indulges at this time of the year but a few simple things you could do to help are:

  • Recycle wrapping paper or use reusable gift boxes The UK uses 50,000 trees worth of wrapping paper a year which is enough to gift wrap the island of Guernsey.
  • Make decorations for your Christmas tree or buy better quality ones which don’t have to be replaced as often. You could even use natural decorations like pine cones.
  • Recycle your glass bottles and tins; it’s easy to chuck them in the rubbish bin when they start piling up but don’t! Producing one aluminium can from its constituent parts uses twenty times the energy it does to reform it into something else.
  • Turn the heating down a couple of degrees and start feeling festive, put a warm and cosy jumper on!

Imagine if everyone who reads this article follows these actions; that will save a lot of unnecessary waste from going to landfill or being incinerated.

However if you’re thinking you can be more adventurous and make an even greater difference, read on and find out how.

Here at the University of Sheffield we understand the problem of food waste and are working hard to combat, especially through Sheffield on a Plate in the Students Union. Many councils throughout the UK too are beginning to see that food waste is a massive issue. I think that if you put your mind to it, you can make a difference during your holidays and reduce your food waste significantly:

  • If your council has a food waste collection scheme, make the most of it. They accept almost all food types and use it to make compost or produce methane that can’t be used for energy in anaerobic digesters.
  • If you’re in University halls look up how to pick up a food waste bin and put all your peelings and wasted food in it
  • If you have a compost bin or heap make the absolute most of it!
  • If you don’t have a large garden other options are a wormery, which you put fruit and veg peelings in and fill with worms. They break the waste down to be used as soil.


A compost caddy like this one is great for food scraps

Planning your meal ahead this Christmas will cut down on food waste significantly. If you do end up with leftovers, you could get adventurous in the kitchen!

Use old bones from the Christmas turkey to make stock to make soup for Boxing Day or to put in the freezer for another day. Left-over meat can be made into curries or stews; vegetables into soups and broths for cold days. It doesn’t have to be two weeks of cold turkey sandwiches!

Don’t put excess tins or dried food in the bin, donate them to your local food bank.

The options are extensive but remember every small thing you do helps to reduce your carbon footprint and support the planet. In addition to this, it saves pennies too. There are so many positives for reducing your waste this Christmas!

I hope that you will give some of these ideas for this festive period a go and that you will be inspired to continue them into the New Year.

To all, have a Merry Christmas and a green New Year!




photo credit:

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1 thought on “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle this Christmas”

  1. Thank you for posting this–I’m looking for clever ways to present something other than presents this year and came upon your post. I came upon this quote, and want to share it w/you (although I saw it out of context, so know nothing about the person who said it):

    “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude.” –Denis Waitley

    Merry Christmas!

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