How to Reduce Waste at Christmas

December 19, 2014 Published by

How to Be a Christmas E.L.F (Environmentally Loving Family)

Christmas traditions have changed in recent times with a shift in focus from celebration and spending time with family to a more commercialised event, where it is all about the gifts. Spending lots and boasting about how many presents your child has to open on Christmas morning is teaching our children to expect lots and be materialistic. It’s time to take back Christmas and make sure our children grow up grateful for what they have and wasting less during the festive season.

Reduce your waste

Christmas is becoming increasingly commercial and children don’t need the amount of presents they are sometimes given. Most parents can find toys that haven’t been played with for months and clothes that their children have grown out of before being worn – by only buying what they need you can avoid wasting money and throwing out unwanted toys/clothes.5329459602_7c8979410a_z

It’s well worth doing your research to find toys that won’t just be five-minute wonders. Flashy adverts and targeted packing may grab children’s attention, but these toys won’t necessarily be a long-term favourite. Choose toys that are engaging and age-appropriate to get the most out of them.

Avoid impulse buying through the year so children can look forward to getting gifts on their Birthday and at Christmas – this will mean fewer unwanted toys and will help your child learn to look forward to (and appreciate) getting presents.

Spending money doesn’t represent how much you love your child and they will enjoy spending quality time with you more than a mountain of toys. Spend less cash but invest more time in them instead. Gift experiences will go down a treat and give them something they can keep forever. You can also show your child how giving a little can make a big difference by sponsoring a charity.

As well as overbuying presents, we can have a tendency to buy too much food in the festive season. In fact, around 230,000 tonnes of food is wasted just over Christmas in the UK. You can still treat yourselves, just try to only buy what your family will be able to eat – make a shopping list and stick to it!


Reuse & Recycle

A few hours into Christmas day you are likely to find you living room filled with wrapping paper, which will eventually be unceremoniously gathered into a black bin bag – 50,000 trees worth of wrapping paper is used every year in the UK and most of that probably ends up in the bin.

But instead of chucking it out, why not make use of it? Here’s a whole list of ideas for reusing wrapping paper – you can use it for decorating furniture or notebooks, or if the paper’s particularly scrunched up it will still make nice packing paper for fragile bits and bobs. There are lots of ways to reuse Christmas cards as well, such as making new cards and gift tags for next year, or as decorations.

You can reuse your leftover food too – of course there’s the classic cold turkey sandwich, but there are lots more recipes out there for using up your leftover Christmas dinner. How about bubble and squeak? Or fried christmas pudding slices with cream?

Once you have reused all that you can, make the effort to recycle everything you can. We know it’s Christmas and you just want to relax, but thanks to recycling schemes the amount of waste recycled has increased from 7.5% to 43% since the 90’s – which goes to show that a small effort can make a huge difference!


Out With the Old

Clearing out old toys and clothes ready for Christmas can be a great lesson for your child in being less wasteful. Learning about giving to others when you can is important and Christmas is a great time to do this as a family.

Go through your child’s old toys and clothes and together and choose some to give to charity. You could talk about ‘giving the toys back to santa’ so he can give them to younger children. Older children could research which charity they would like to help.

If you have any untouched, non-perishable food (such as tins), you could donate it to your local food bank.

In With the New

Encourage your child to respect their new toys and clothes, so they last as long as they can. Get them to tidy their things away so the jigsaws don’t end up with missing pieces and the figures don’t end up broken.

If toys end up broken because of your child’s negligence, rather than an accident, don’t instantly replace them. Teach your child that they will have to wait until their birthday, earn the money through good behaviour or save up pocket money to pay for it.

Boy Holding Mother's Hands at Christmas

Teaching children to be less materialistic and reduce waste at Christmas can lead to a better time for all of the family. We have all heard of a child being more interested in the box than the gift! Make the lessons last all year by choosing useful presents that focus on family time for a special Christmas without the overindulgence.

Photo Credits:

Is this Present for Me? by Lars Ploughman licensed under CC BY-SA.20


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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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