In the lead-up to Christmas, if the idea of excessive present wrapping, endless plastic toys and decorations, and mounds of food leftovers leaves you filled with dread, it’s important to take a step back and reconsider how much you spend in the holidays and assess the reasons why.

According to a report by Capital Counselor:

  • 41% of people in the US are willing to take on debt due to gift shopping.
  • $15.2 billion is the estimated total of unwanted presents.

This kind of overspending and wastage isn’t only linked to Christmas shopping. Many people buy excessive amounts of Christmas decorations and food in the festive season.

However, the simple act of buying less and focusing more on quality rather than quantity is not only good for the environment, but for your pocket too! Reducing waste helps to minimize how much stuff ends up on landfill sites and therefore helps to prevent pollution and preserve natural resources. It’s a win-win!

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways to reduce waste at Christmas

Décor and gifts

1 Use natural decorations

Table centerpiece

One of the easiest ways to reduce waste at Christmas is to buy fewer plastic items and use biodegradable decorations instead. Some great natural options include:

  • Different types of driftwood to be used as a centerpiece, candleholder etc.
  • Biodegradable candles (with either beeswax or coconut wax) with greenery
  • Pinecones from the garden
  • A natural wreath rather than a plastic one (We love Etsy’s natural wreath selection)
  • Seasonal flowers from your garden or plant center.
  • A table runner or centerpiece made from plants, twigs and fruit

2 Turn Christmas cards into décor

Rather than buying separate bunting or plastic banners, use the Christmas cards you receive as décor by attaching them to string and hanging them near the tree or across your mantle. And, if you’re sending out Christmas cards, why not save money and paper by sending e-cards instead?

3 Invest in recyclable wrapping paper

Whether you have a small Christmas gathering or loads of family members to wrap presents for, a great eco-friendly alternative to traditional wrapping paper is to use an eco-friendly variety such as Hallmarks Recyclable Christmas wrapping paper.

It’s also wise to use brown paper that can be recycled and natural or recyclable elements to wrap and decorate your gifts such as twigs, flowers and natural yarn.

4 Use the ‘Secret Santa’ initiative

A simple way to avoid over-buying Christmas gifts is to use the ‘Secret Santa’ initiative which involves drawing the name of a family member out of a hat and buying a single gift for that person rather than buying numerous gifts for everyone. When it’s time to exchange gifts at Christmas, everyone remains anonymous. This will not only help to reduce waste, but it’s a great way to save money on endless Christmas presents or duplicate items.  

5 Make your own Christmas gifts

Instead of consuming more stuff – and giving people gifts they may not need, why not consider going a little simpler this Christmas with homemade foodie gifts that friends and family will love? Biscuits in glass mason jars are always a treat, or you could fill jars with nuts and dried fruit, homemade fudge or fresh, homemade jam.

biscuits in mason jar

6 Support charity stores

If you’re not a fan of homemade gifts, another option is to visit thrift stores/charity stores or check out ebay for some great second-hand options. Buying second-hand encourages reusage rather than overconsumption.

The food

1 Plan your Christmas menu ahead of time

Think carefully about how much food each person needs rather than simply buying in bulk. Cater less for children and source local, seasonal ingredients to cut down on the overall cost and food waste. Also, consider everything from drinks and snacks to the meal itself. If you’re serving a lot of food, guests may not need many snacks or too many dessert options.

2 Buy loose produce

Another simple, yet effective way to cut down on plastic usage as well as save money is to buy loose produce – like vegetables, fruit and potatoes, for instance, and only buy what you need for your Christmas menu

3 Work with your fridge

Include foods on your Christmas menu that will keep well in the fridge and work as leftovers. For instance:

  • Ham, chicken and turkey will last for up to three days in the fridge.
  • Soft cheese, well wrapped, will keep for a few days in the fridge; hard cheese for up to a month.
  • Smoked salmon keeps for up to a week in the fridge.
  • Cream, once opened, needs to be used within a week (or the use-by date).
  • Wine for cooking can be frozen and will keep for up to three months

4 Use your ice trays

Leftover red wine can add flavour to a Bolognaise sauce or tenderize meat. That last scrape of pesto might be good in a pasta dish or salad. Squeeze the last of a lemon into an ice cube for future use (most recipes only call for a drop). If you have leftover herbs from Christmas lunch, chop them small, pop in an ice tray and pour in olive oil – this is ideal for adding to stews and soups.

5 Use leftovers creatively

  • Bread can be used for croutons; bread-and-butter pudding; or frozen into breadcrumbs to top pasta bakes.
  • Cheese rinds are brilliant flavour intensifiers for soups and stews. Simply add to the pot to release the flavour.
  • Overripe bananas can be used for banana bread, but all old root vegetables like carrots and pumpkin can be added to make a sweet, moist sponge.
  • Use cauliflower leaves in salads; beet leaves as a roll/wrap for a rice salad; and broccoli stems in a stir fry.
  • Yoghurt nearing its use-by date can be mixed with overripe fruit, honey and lemon juice in a blender. Simply process it until it’s creamy and then pop it into a tub and freeze it to make instant frozen yoghurt.

Did you know?

Tululla products

By supporting our business, you’re automatically being kinder to the environment and reducing the waste that ends up on landfill sites as our packaging is proudly plastic free! Additionally, you can opt to plant a tree for every product you purchase. Visit our Giving Back section to find out more.