Christmas is a time of fun and joy, however it is also the most wasteful time of the year, 30% more waste is produced during the festive period than any other time of the year.

A lot of people do not think about the waste they produce during this period. In fact, according to statistics, 6 in 10 people do not care about what they throw away over the festive period.

Christmas needs to be made greener.

Below are some scarily surprising facts on how much waste is produced at Christmas.

Starting with the amount of wrapping paper used, in the UK alone we roughly use 227000 miles of wrapping paper each year, this is on average 4 rolls of wrapping paper per house hold. Defra estimated that the wrapping paper we use each year would be enough to wrap Guernsey!

Research from Greenpeace shows that 3kg of CO2 emissions are produced for every 1kg of wrapping paper produced.

Also let’s not forget about the main thing we pair with wrapping paper, sticky tape, its estimated 40 million rolls of sticky tape are used each year.

As well as receiving gifts in wrapping paper, it is also common to receive a Christmas card along with it, each person will receive roughly 17 Christmas cards a year.

One tree can create 3000 Christmas cards and the royal mail deliver around 150 million Christmas cards a year! That’s a lot of trees cut down just to send a card…the total amount of Christmas cards sent each year could cover big ben 260000 times!

Christmas is without a doubt the most expensive time of the year for a lot of people.

Roughly 125000 tonnes of plastic waste is produced during the festive period…

With each person in the UK roughly spending £330 a year on presents and a population of 68 million, an estimated £22,440,000,000 is spent on presents each year. Think how many presents you can buy with that amount of money! And think again of the amount of packaging that would come along with it. A lot of presents contain some type of packaging, mainly being plastic, in fact more than 125000 tonnes of plastic waste is made during the festive period. More than 100 million bags of rubbish are sent to landfill after the festive period, with this roughly being 3 and a ½ bags per household.

Each year £700 million is spent on unwanted presents, with around £42 million worth of these unwanted Christmas gifts ending up in landfill. In the UK, a child will receive roughly 16 presents. The majority of presents will also need batteries, roughly 189 million batteries are used over the Christmas period.  

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a big roast dinner and lots of lovely festive food! But did you know 54 million platefuls of food is wasted during the festive period? Don’t forget about the food packaging too, 125000 tonnes of plastic from food packaging are thrown away during the festive period, this is the equivalent of roughly 97,700,000 plastic balloons or 200000 iPads.

In the UK, at Christmas time, roughly 2 million turkeys are thrown away, 5 million Christmas puddings, 17 million brussel sprouts, 74 million mince pies and two million kg of cheese are thrown away. If all this food waste was recycled, it could power a home for up to 57 years.

A scary little fact about one of the world most loved Christmas time chocolates; Ferrero Rocher, a chocolate where its packaging is almost the same in weight as the chocolate, 42% is packaging and 58% is the chocolate!  

13350 tonnes of glass from bottled drinks are thrown away each year in the festive season…

Quite often people will accompany their Christmas eating with a glass of alcohol or two, or quite a lot, considering the statistics, to put things in to perspective, the amount of beer consumed over Christmas could fill 57 Olympic sized swimming pools. The waste from food and alcohol at Christmas is astonishing, 13350 tonnes of glass from bottled drinks are thrown away during the festive season, if all of this glass was recycled then that would prevent 246kg of CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere per each ton of glass.

Be more sustainable this Christmas

Now you know just how much waste we produce at Christmas, it is up to us how we impact our environment by recycling our waste or not. 70% of the waste we produce around Christmas can be recycled or reused.

Here are some things you can do to make your Christmas more environmentally friendly this year:

  • Buy a real Christmas tree from a local, sustainable grower, making sure they are FSC certified.
  • Use recyclable cards and wrapping paper, not all wrapping paper is just paper, some also include plastic and this cannot be recycled, make sure not to buy wrapping paper with foil or glitter on.
  • Be aware of the lights you are using; LED lights use around 25-80% less energy than traditional bulbs. However solar powered lights that are on a timer are the best option.
  • Maximise your home efficiency; keep your home warm, keep the cold out by draught-proofing your home, move your furniture away from the radiator and turn the thermostat down by one when there is an extra person in the house as extra people create extra heat.
  • Chose organic food and reduce waste; buy organic and free-range produce with little packaging and turn your left overs in to something new or give them to someone in need.
  • Buy green gifts; when looking for gifts, try to buy environmentally friendly, such as clothes with sustainable fibre use labels on.

Sources:

Christmas Waste Statistics – Making Christmas ‘Green’ – Wayst Blog

Reducing Waste This Christmas | 10 Tips & Advice (highspeedtraining.co.uk)

Christmas, the most wasteful time of the year | Guardian sustainable business | The Guardian

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