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Seven ways you can be more eco-friendly this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 08:49 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:07 18 December 2019

How can we be more eco-friendly this Christmas? Picture: Getty Images

How can we be more eco-friendly this Christmas? Picture: Getty Images

Archant

Andy Williams called it the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also the most wasteful.

How can we be more eco-friendly this Christmas? Picture: Getty ImagesHow can we be more eco-friendly this Christmas? Picture: Getty Images

In fact, every Christmas, the amount of waste produced by UK households increases by a staggering 30pc.

So, as the nation digs out its decorations, scrambles for Secret Santa ideas and eats three times its body weight, how can we be more environmentally conscious about our festive habits?

Here's a few tips on how you can be more eco-friendly this Christmas.

1) Recycle

A whole host of materials used at Christmas time can be recycled. 
Picture: ArchantA whole host of materials used at Christmas time can be recycled. Picture: Archant

It's an obvious one, but millions of us still aren't recycling properly.

An estimated 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging and 83km/sq of wrapping paper is thrown away in the UK every Christmas, much of it going into the incorrect bin.

Most wrapping paper is recyclable, with the exception of paper with glitter or a foil-effect, while the countless bottles and cans dotted around the house should be discarded appropriately.

Breckland Council has recommended a wrapping paper 'scrunch test': if it stays scrunch, recycle it. If it bounces back, it should go in the rubbish bin.

There are countless ways we can be more eco-friendly at Christmas. Picture: ArchantThere are countless ways we can be more eco-friendly at Christmas. Picture: Archant

"Recycling correctly should be a part of everyone's routine, especially at Christmas time," says Alison Webb, Breckland's executive member for the environment.

"The scrunch test is not only a fun way of finding out if your wrapping paper can be recycled, but also a vital way to increase our correct recycling rates."

2) Make sustainable fashion choices

Everyone, aside from Scrooges amongst us, loves a Christmas jumper.

Around a billion cards are thrown away within a few days of Christmas Day every year. Picture: Getty ImagesAround a billion cards are thrown away within a few days of Christmas Day every year. Picture: Getty Images

But earlier this month, Environmental charity Hubbub urged us to stop buying festive fleeces after finding 95pc of those on the shelves were made entirely or partly from plastic.

What's more, according to research from Oxfam, around 1.7m items of sequined clothing and accessories - which won't ever biodegrade - will be binned following this year's Christmas party season.

Revellers are instead advised to buy second-hand, borrow from friends and donate items which are no longer needed to charity shops.

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3) Don't buy gifts for the sake of it

It may well be a season of goodwill and giving, but Macmillan Cancer Support predicts the people of Norfolk will spend £40m this year on gifts they suspect their loved ones may not like.

Inevitably, many of those presents will go to waste and end up in landfill, so the charity recommends asking for a donation to your favourite charity as an alternative.

4) Go green with your Christmas cards

It's important we don't overbuy when stocking up on food for Christmas. Picture: Getty ImagesIt's important we don't overbuy when stocking up on food for Christmas. Picture: Getty Images

It's a Christmas tradition that may never die, but it's thought more than a billion cards are thrown out within days of December 25.

Many are covered in glitter and unnecessary plastic packaging, so try sites like Ethical Shop and Green Pebble for an eco-friendly option, or send a digital message.

5) Make your own Christmas crackers

Every year our houses end up cluttered with pointless little plastic toys from the countless crackers we've pulled.

Extra food can be donated at food banks at Christmas time. Picture: PA Archive/PA ImagesExtra food can be donated at food banks at Christmas time. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

If you don't put them in your 'stuff that doesn't go anywhere' drawer, they'll likely end up in the bin.

Why not have a crack at making your own? There are plenty of online guides and you'll just need to think of some useful, environmentally-friendly surprises to fill them.

6) Cut down on food waste

Seeing the fridge and cupboards brimming with goodies at Christmas is a glorious.

Choosing whether to buy an artificial or fresh Christmas tree is an all-important decision. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoChoosing whether to buy an artificial or fresh Christmas tree is an all-important decision. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Our eyes, however, tend to be bigger than our bellies, so consider freezing your leftovers or donate to your local food bank such as those run by The Trussell Trust in Norfolk.

7) O Christmas Tree - are you eco-friendly?

It's not always clear whether to buy an artificial tree which is near impossible to recycled, or a fresh tree which needs chopping down.

Despite the plus side of being able to re-use a fake tree, their carbon footprint is huge given the materials used and long travel distances following manufacture.

Fresh Christmas trees have a much smaller carbon footprint than artificial trees. Picture: Getty ImagesFresh Christmas trees have a much smaller carbon footprint than artificial trees. Picture: Getty Images

Experts say your best bet is to buy real, whether grown in Norfolk or with an FSC certification to show it's from the UK.

Once Christmas ends, trees are best recycled locally for chipping or by planting them in he garden if the roots are still intact.

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