The trees are going up, lights are switched on, the shops are packed with crowds and your freezer is ready to burst - that's right, Christmas is here again!
It hardly seems five minutes since we shared our Christmas waste infographic with you last year, revealing the shocking amount of waste produced in the UK over the holidays. From the 40% of festive food we throw away, to the staggering 1billion Christmas cards that are dumped, Christmas can be one of the most wasteful times of year.
This Christmas, we're going to share some top tips with you to help cut down on waste and to help you have a greener, more environmentally friendly holiday.
Choosing The Best Tree
On the surface you might think that an artificial tree would be best - they last for years, produce no mess, and they're relatively affordable.
But when it comes to what's greenest, there's little denying that a live, real tree is best. For starters, artificial trees are made of plastic; produced with oil, they're rarely recyclable, and they're often shipped large distances around the globe to get to your home.
Live trees, conversely, can be very good for the environment. Usually they're grown on farms so you won't be damaging a forest by having a real tree cut for you, and for all the time they're growing before Christmas they're helping to remove carbon from the atmosphere and providing benefits to the nearby environment and wildlife.
Even better, once you're done with your tree you can compost it or have it recycled. Even if you can't compost it at home, your local council will probably be able to dispose of it responsibly for you.
Speaking of composting, it's always a good idea to compost as much of your waste as possible - so if you've got any waste food left after dinner, make sure it goes to benefit your garden and doesn't just end up in a landfill site.
Buying Local Gifts and Food
Just like we've talked about before at AMA Waste, one of the most polluting industries in the world is the transport industry, whether it's cars and lorries or large cargo ships.
In today's world, a huge number of the toys and gifts that we buy for each other are shipped around the world before they reach the shelves here in the UK. Buying handmade gifts from local shops, or even just researching where things are made before you buy them, can help to cut your environmental footprint. You'll also be doing your bit for your local economy and helping out small business owners and craftspeople.
The same ideas apply to the food you serve at Christmas too. By choosing to buy locally sourced food you're not only doing your bit for the environment and your local farmers but you could save money too as supermarket prices are often inflated to take their transport costs into account. Plus it's always nice to know where your food comes from.
Use Recyclable Materials
You might think that any wrapping paper can be recycled - it is, after all, paper. But in reality a lot of the more premium papers, like metallic and foil wrapping papers, can't be recycled and will end up in landfill sites when Christmas is over. The same can apply to some cards too - especially ones with added extras like in-built speakers.
Where you can, you should try to reuse wrapping paper as well as things like bows and ribbons. You'll need to be careful when you unwrap gifts, and make sure you remember where you've stored the paper when you come to wrap next year's presents, but doing this is not only the greener option but could also save you quite a lot of money.
Most Christmas cards can be recycled too, except for those we mentioned above. A lot of local councils will provide places where you can drop off cards that you don't want to keep, and you'll quite often find recycling bins just for cards in your local supermarket.
Giving Second Hand Gifts
While we're on the subject of recycling, there's something to be said for giving second-hand gifts. We're not saying you should re-gift things you've been given but didn't like, that's a definite Christmas no-no, but there are a lot of great treasures to be found in antique shops, charity shops, and online.
Not only will a polished-up antique be a unique and memorable gift, as well as showing a lot of thought and care, but it can have an environmental benefit too. By cutting down the transport costs of your gifts, as we talked about earlier, you can reduce your Christmas carbon footprint. And, by rescuing unloved antiques and donated goods from a potential trip to the tip, you keep non-compostable waste out of the ground and reduce the need for yet more mass-produced plastic goods.
Keeping The Lights On
At any time other than Christmas most of us wouldn't dream of leaving the lights on all day in our home when we're out. But there's something about the depths of winter that make people leave their Christmas lights on all day and night, both inside and outside of their houses.
Whether it's Christmas tree lights flickering 24/7, or outside lights illuminating the street all night long, keeping the fairy lights on all season can cost you a lot of money and use far more electricity than you need to.
Aside from the obvious solution - turning your lights off when you go out or go to bed - switching to a new set of lights is a great way to enjoy your festive display without worrying about the cost or electricity use. Newer LED lights use up to 95% less electricity and last much longer than traditional bulbs, so you'll both save power and have lights that will last you for years to come.
Merry Christmas from everyone at AMA Skip Hire!