Helping Reduce Waste

There is plenty we can all do to help reduce waste during the festive period. Sometimes we just need to think a little bit differently to make swaps to more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives.

Below you will find some helpful hints and tips on how you can have a less wasteful Christmas.

Unwanted Presents

Unwanted gift imageLet’s admit it, we have all received an unwanted gift at some point, and how to get rid of it is always a quandy!

If you receive one of the estimated £700m worth of unwanted gifts this year make sure you dispose of them responsibly, don’t simply add to your rubbish bin. They can always be regifted (just not back to the person who gave it to you originally!), we can often think of that one person who would love that gift. Alternatively donate the item to a local charity shop or group.

Giving Gifts

Sky Diving imageGifts don’t always have to be physical items, memories last longer. Therefore, why not consider buying friends and family an experience, such as a bungee jump, indoor sky diving, track day or for the more faint-hearted, afternoon tea or a relaxing spa day. You could always gift tickets to a concert or theatre.

Gift cards always make a great alternative, these could be for their favourite clothes shop, music downloads, online store or restaurant, and if for someone on a low income a supermarket gift card.

Subscriptions can make a great year-round gift, this could be to an online streaming platform, digital publication, hard copy magazine, beauty box, food/drink club or a yearly membership to their favourite attraction.

Another option to traditional presents is the gift of time. Pledge to help someone who needs it, whether to clean for them, decorate that long awaited room, undertake gardening duties, walk their dog or simply time each week for a chat. We underestimate the power of time, so why not give some of yours this Christmas?

If you know an animal lover, adopt an animal on their behalf. There is plenty on offer from the big – elephants and lions, to the small – hedgehogs and bats, to the everyday – donkeys and horses, to the support animals – guide and medical detection dogs. There is something for everyone, most offer a starter pack and regular updates throughout the year on the chosen animal.

Handmade gingerbread cookies imageAdd a personal touch by home baking gifts, whether sweet or savoury the possibilities are endless. The classic gingerbread cookies always go down well, as does fudge, or for something a little different make hot chocolate stirrers. Traditional homemade mince pies are a treat, cheese and rosemary biscuits or a chutney are great alternatives! Click here for further inspiration.


If a real Christmas tree is a must consider investing in a potted one that can then be used year after year. Alternatively, for a less hassle-free option rent a real tree. There are many businesses offering this service, they will delivery to your doorstep and then collect once the festive period is over. These responsible businesses then re-plant the trees keeping unnecessary waste from landfill.

If you do buy a real tree that needs disposing of please take it to your nearest Recycling Centre rather than putting in your general rubbish.

Alternative Decoration imageNatural decorations can add something special to your home, especially if home made and a family effort. Go on a scavenger hunt for pinecones, twigs, fir tree bits, fresh holly and if you are lucky, mistletoe. Using a few simple scraps of ribbon, craft materials and string you can create some truly unique decorations. For inspiration please visit our Pinterest page, where you will find ideas on other crafty decorations.

Wrapping Paper

Christmas wrapping paper equates to enough rubbish to reach the moon, now that’s a lot of paper! So why not look at alternatives to help reduce this amount?

Use gift bags or boxes, as the receiver of the gift can reuse these next year. A Christmas themed tote bag adds a little bit of a twist and can also form part of the present, these have a long-life cycle coming out for use year after year for shopping.

Alternative Christmas Wrapping PaperTry keeping it simple by using brown paper that is often more recyclable than wrapping paper as does not contain plastic or chemicals. By being creative with string, ribbon, foliage and candy canes (a extra little treat) you can create some truly beautifully presented gifts.

Old maps and song sheets that can no longer be used make really unique wrapped presents, or even pages from an old Christmas book that has seen better days.

Why not add another part to a present by using Christmas scarves or tea towels, both a great little extra. Alternatively reuse old Christmas jumpers or table clothes that have seen better days, by cutting up and using as wrapping.

If you do buy wrapping paper and receive presents in traditional paper, please visit our Scrunch Test page for information on how to buy and get rid of it responsibly.


Alternative Christmas CrackerAs there are certain elements of Christmas crackers that cannot be recycled and you cannot guarantee that the jokes are funny, be different this year and make your own.

You can buy craft sets on the market, many that are environmentally friendly, but you could get extra creative and make from scratch and with a difference. They could be envelope shaped, using up those bits of wrapping paper that we all have left over, you could use small gift bags or have a go at creating a traditional shaped cracker using toilet rolls, brown paper, scraps of wrapping paper or fabric.

Full them with gifts that are wanted such as a lottery ticket, home made fudge or a gift card. You can make sure that the jokes are ones that will be funny to those around the table with hats that can be reused the following year.

Another option is to hold one present back for each person at dinner, that can be opened in place of a cracker.