Coping with Christmas Waste

Holiday Waste | 12 min Read

The Christmas season has arrived, and you know what that means! It’s time to break out the good cheer, spend time with our loved ones, and create monumental amounts of waste… Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year for all of us. But it’s also one of the most wasteful periods when the volume of waste materials produced and disposed of increases.

Holidays are the times to celebrate with family and friends and that can involve a lot of wastefulness. We frequently celebrate during the holiday period by dining out and going to parties. We can spend too much on presents for friends and family, and often send Christmas cards to everyone we know. The high street charms us with ‘Christmas offers’, encouraging us to buy shiny new giftware, home decorations, and festive treats all wrapped up in expensive-looking packaging.  Much of this, unfortunately, is sent to landfill where it harms the environment. With the Christmas season being full of tradition and celebrations, it’s no surprise that it leads to a massive amount of waste being produced every time it comes.

The extra waste created during the holiday season

Christmas has been referred to as ‘the world’s greatest annual environmental disaster’, with all of us creating an enormous impact in terms of pollution and waste we generate. It’s estimated that some families spend 60% more of their incomes and generate 30% more household waste over the holiday season. Woah! Trash cans full of holiday food waste, ribbons and bows, packaging, shopping bags, and wrapping paper contribute an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills.

As consumers, we are increasingly concerned with the environmental impact and the sustainability our actions have, with Christmas proving to be no different. It is estimated that 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are generated at Christmas time, with plastic packaging for toys and advent calendar trays being the worst felons. It might be surprising to hear how much waste is produced at Christmas each year. Every year, we threw away an average of 228,000 miles of wrapping paper, almost enough for us to paper our way to the moon!

Reduce waste during the Christmas holiday season

While the Christmas season brings good cheer for most people, it also brings a lot more solid and plastic waste to the landfill, damages to the environment, and additional debt to the average family. It is much more important to practice proper solid waste management in the holiday season. 

  • To reduce the amount of wrapping paper that we currently send to landfills, biodegradable paper, hessian, and cloth could be used to wrap the presents. Most brown paper is recyclable and compostable, and as it is unbleached it undergoes minimum chemical treatments during production. Also, it’s fun to get creative with packaging by using colorful pages of newspapers or magazines or reusing wrapping paper and gift bags you already have. 
  • For the gifts, looking for durable and reusable items and resisting the latest “fad” at the mall will help reduce waste. Think of how many mood rings and pet rocks ended up in the landfill!
  • Although they’re lovely and they give your home or workplace a festive feel, one of the issues with real Christmas trees is that according to statistics, 250 tonnes of them are thrown away after the holiday when they could have been used for compost. Think about renting a tree this year as there are companies and garden centers across the country now offering this service. As another option, you could buy a potted tree that we can keep year after year. An average of  7 million Christmas trees goes to landfill every year, producing over 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas.
  • Consider homemade gifts: home baked cookies, bread or jams, a plant or tree. Ones that don’t create any waste at all: movie, theater or concert tickets, dinner at a restaurant. Ones that get “used up”: handmade candles, soaps, or seeds for next year’s garden.
  • Avoid plastic decorations. Choose glass, wood metal, and natural decorations over plastic ones. It can even be a fun activity out of making your own natural or repurposed decorations.
  • If you’re hosting a holiday extravaganza, stick to the reusable plate and glass, ceramic, and metal dishware and cutlery. Encouraging friends and family to BYOC (bring your own cup) or finding extra dishes and glasses at second-hand shops to supplement what you already own reduces waste as well.

Let’s keep Christmas the most wonderful time of the year, and stop it from becoming the most wasteful time of the year. Check out Evreka solutions to change the way you manage waste even in the holiday season and reach a better smart waste management system.


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