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Three ways to reduce waste this Christmas

Christmas has, in the past, been one of the most wasteful times of the year.  In the UK alone, around 230 thousand tonnes of food is wasted at Christmas. And when it comes to unwanted presents, parents admit to spending £50 or more per child last Christmas on toys that their children lost interest in after just a few days.

So, with all the other changes we’re having to make due to Covid-19 let’s take the opportunity to rethink and minimise our waste this Christmas too.

By becoming an E.L.F. (Environmentally Loving Family) you can help to reduce your impact on the environment and save money too. Plus, you’ll be setting a good example for your child and helping them learn that less is more.

Here are a few tips to get you started – if you have any you think we should add to the list, let us know on Facebook or Instagram!


1. Only buy what you need

We can have a tendency to overbuy in the festive season. This year you can avoid waste – and save money! – by taking the time to plan beforehand.

For festive feasting, you can still treat yourselves, but consider making a shopping list and sticking to it. With your child’s presents, a little research can help you avoid those five-minute wonders.

Browse Tried & Tested Toys

“If they disregard it after a couple of months, they don’t get the play value, so it’s important to buy toys that will stand the test of time.”

Dr Amanda Gummer


2. Reuse toys, food, and wrapping paper

A few carefully chosen toys at Christmas can not only save waste, but will also be something that can be enjoyed in different ways or handed down between siblings for years to come.

What about the reams of wrapping paper littering the living room floor on Christmas morning? Turn collecting it all up into a game by sticking on some party music and seeing who can gather the most paper! And instead of chucking it all out, you can turn your unwanted wrapping paper and cards into all sorts of crafts including decorating furniture or notebooks, gift tags and decorations.

If you can’t re-use something, recycle it if you can. 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! Consider choosing materials that can be recycled, or even toys made from recycled materials!

Here are some of our eco-favourites this Christmas!

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

If you have any untouched, non-perishable food (such as tins), you could donate these to your local food bank. A record 1.6 million food packages were handed out in the last year by the UK’s biggest food bank network, The Trussell Trust, with one in five users relying on this to feed their children. So if you’ve got a tin of fruit cocktail that will otherwise be sitting in the back of your cupboard for the next year, consider passing it on to a family in need.


3. Make toys last as long as possible

Encouraging your child to respect their new toys and clothes will help these last as long as possible, while teaching your child the importance of valuing what they have.

Throughout the year, avoid missing pieces and broken toys by getting your child to tidy away their things when they’ve finished playing.

If toys end up broken because of negligence, rather than by accident, use this as an opportunity to teach your child that things aren’t easily replaced. If they want a new one, consider getting them to earn the money, save up their pocket money, or wait until their Birthday (or next Christmas) to do so.

This time of year is a great excuse for a good clear out of old toys and clothes. As well as making space for their incoming gifts, it’s a good opportunity to teach your child about giving to others, and appreciating what they have.

You could talk about “giving the toys back to Santa” so he can give them to younger children. Older children could also research which charity they would like to help, so they can enjoy supporting a cause that is important to them.

A good rule of thumb when donating to charity is to only donate toys and clothes that you yourself would be prepared to buy. Broken toys, games with missing pieces and clothes with holes in are better off being repaired or recycled where possible.



I think that worrying about waste can feel like a low priority, especially when you just want to sit back and enjoy Christmas day – not be carefully preserving every inch of wrapping paper, or boxing up the leftovers from dinner when you’ve got a tummy full of turkey.

That being said, a little effort goes a long way, and the payout is huge – you’ll be helping to save the environment, teaching your child to value what they have, and saving yourself money too. To make it feel more manageable, I suggest using the tips in this article to write a list of jobs, then deciding in advance which family members can take responsibility for each task.

Avoiding waste really begins with my first point on this list though – only buying what you need. It can be easy to panic-buy at Christmas, so it’s important to take a step back and think about what your family will really appreciate having.

To help you do this when choosing gifts for your child, the Good Play Guide only includes toys that have been tested by children, reviewed by experts, and independently endorsed – so you can be confident you are getting great toys that will offer hours of play.