Christmas is going to be more than a little different this year, but one thing’s for sure, the pandemic is not going to stop us putting up the tree, hanging up decorations, sending presents, and tucking into a festive feast. Can we also seize the opportunity to make sustainability a fundamental part of the celebrations?
Whilst there’s not much to cheer about this year, growing awareness of our impact on the planet and taking steps to reduce our environmental footprint are reasons to celebrate. Follow these five festive measures for a more sustainable Christmas.
1. Savour festive food
Food waste is an enormous contributor to climate change — globally, we waste about a third of our food. However, research by environmental charity, Hubbub, indicates there are signs of positive shifts in food-related behaviours during the COVID-19 crisis, including cooking from scratch and wasting less food. To reduce waste, plan meals ahead, portion sensibly, and freeze leftover food. Lots of tasty recipes using leftover food and more tips for reducing waste can be found on the Love Food, Hate Waste website. We also have handy guides in our literature bank to prevent food waste from the very start.
Did you know that figures from the Carbon Trust indicate that a real Christmas tree of around 2m-tall will produce a carbon footprint of 16kg of carbon dioxide? If you have a real Christmas tree, the most environmentally conscious way to dispose of it after Christmas is to compost it. If you cannot compost it yourself, many councils offer special collections for recycling of trees.
3. On a roll with reducing paper waste
Sending cards online can reduce paper waste, or how about making a charitable donation instead of sending cards?
Avoid buying glittery or metallic, foil-based wrapping paper, cards, and crackers which can be difficult to recycle. If in doubt, test it out with the ‘scrunch test’ – if you literally scrunch the paper in your hand and it stays in a ball, it can be put into the recycling. Try to wrap presents in material that can be recycled, such as plain brown paper or even recycled newspaper! Remove glitter from cards before recycling. If wrapping isn’t too torn, it may be able to be saved and re-used for next Christmas.
4. Care for clothing
With large party gatherings on hold this year, you won’t be so tempted to impulse buy a new, sparkly top or Christmas jumper. To make the most of clothing you already have, see our tips for how to reduce textile and clothing waste. You should also check out the The Love Your Clothes campaign from WRAP, which offers some great refashioning and upcycling ideas.
5. Plastic can be fantastic!
Contrary to popular belief, plastics have a very resource-efficient profile. Responsibly produced plastic packaging brings value and efficiencies to the supply chain. It weighs less than alternatives like paper, cardboard, glass, and metal, and it also extends shelf life, minimising Christmas food waste, for example.
The real issue is not with plastics themselves, but with recycling rates, end-user behaviour, and product design. When purchasing products that are packaged in plastic materials, choose products that are clearly labelled as recyclable and opt for plastics that are created from recycled material.
Sustainability is for life, not just for Christmas
Looking ahead to 2021, the Government’s Environment Bill, whose implementation was delayed due to coronavirus, is currently going through the report stage in parliament. The bill outlines a series of measures designed to fundamentally change the way we produce and consume products.
To paraphrase a well-known animal welfare slogan used at Christmas, we need to think about the longer-term impact of our purchasing decisions. We can all do our bit to spread the word and share the gift of sustainability this Christmas! You can find a host of useful tips in the resources section of our website. We’ll also be sharing seasonal sustainability tips and questions from the #CromwellChristmasQuiz on our Twitter and LinkedIn pages throughout the month, so keep checking there.
Finally, on behalf of everyone here at Cromwell Polythene and our sister company, CPR Manufacturing, we wish you all a happy Christmas and a healthy and sustainable new year. Now that’s something to cheer!