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Wise Up to Waste Logo


Waste less to stop you from having a rubbish Christmas!

December 22 2015
From wrapping paper and gift tags to left over Christmas pudding and cold turkey, households generate an excessive amount of waste over the festive period.

In London alone, the average household throws out an extra five bags of rubbish at Christmas, equating to 29,000 tonnes of waste, including enough wrapping paper to stretch to the moon!
Did you know...?


  • Each UK household splashes out £25 on average, for Christmas decorations each year – that’s more than £660 million in total.
  • Eight million Christmas trees are bought in the UK every year, producing 12,000 tonnes of green waste. 
  •  It is also estimated that 230,000 tonnes of food will be thrown away this festive period, including 9,300 tonnes of Brussels sprouts!

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority, said: “The large amount of energy and resources required for both the manufacture and disposal of items during the Christmas period increases our carbon footprint. By planning ahead and making a few changes to what we buy, the way we dispose of our post Christmas waste and how we can make use of any leftovers will make a huge impact, save us money and ultimately, stop us from having a rubbish Christmas! ”   North London Waste Authority is on hand with some top festive tips to help you waste less, recycle more and save money this Christmas.


Gift ideas 

  • Buy ‘experience’ gifts, such as beauty treatments, a ticket to a show or a day out.
  •  Try to choose gifts with reduced packaging.
  •  Make your own gifts and add that personal touch - In November 2015, NLWA worked with Hubbub to run cookery sessions, teaching all kinds of preserving techniques, which also make great Christmas presents. Recipes included chutney, preserved lemons, chutney, and pickled vegetables, such as Sauerkraut and are available at wiseuptowaste.org.uk/waste-free-christmas
  • Try to avoid buying or requesting gifts that rely on disposable parts, including batteries (or use rechargeable batteries).
  • If you are not sure what to buy, why not give money or gift vouchers? For more ideas, log onto www.oxfamunwrapped.com

Gift wrapping 

Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper; they are durable, easy to use and can be used again and again. 

  • Try the old fashioned trick of wrapping presents in newspaper and give it a modern look by finishing it off with a brightly coloured ribbon.
  • If you have to use wrapping paper, make sure you use non-shiny paper that can be recycled. In north London, you can recycle not only your wrapping paper and cards, but Christmas trees, electrical items, furniture, clothing and shoes.  For your nearest reuse and recycling centre visit wiseuptowaste.org.uk
Trees, cards and decorations
  • If you want a real tree, buy a UK grown one that you can plant in your garden or keep in a pot for next year. Artificial trees are even better as they can be used many, many times, and with care will last for a very long time.
  • Choose decorations that can be reused or even better make your own, such as bunting or paper chains from old magazines or newspapers.
  •  Try making your own cards or gift tags by cutting up last year’s Christmas cards and using other materials such as pieces of shiny card from packaging and images from magazines.
  •  Send an ecard! If you’re not quite ready to switch to e-cards, why not make your own Christmas cards for this year or next with materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
Plan Christmas dinner leftover recipes 

  • Plan before festive celebrations, so that there are minimal leftovers, or think of a way to use them up, such as asking guests to bring food containers.
  • Transform your leftovers into tasty new meals, like Turkey Pie (recipe available on wiseuptowaste.org.uk).
  •  Lots of foods can be frozen, such as hard cheese, bread, cake or even whipped cream.
  • Soft fruits and salad ingredients will need to be used quickly as they will not keep and can be combined with cooked leftovers for some quick and tasty meals.
  •  Check out www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for some fantastic ideas including ‘Roast Dinner Soup’, ‘Bubble & Squeak’ and ‘Christmas Pudding Ice Cream’.
The post Christmas clear up
Any waste you may have can be taken to recycling facilities in north London. For more information, and handy hints on how to reduce your waste and save money, visit our webpage.