Dec 11, 2019

It’s the most wonderful (and wasteful) time of the year

Words by Chloe Mills

The days are getting shorter and chillier which can only mean one thing – Christmas is coming! For those who celebrate, this often means parties and presents, drinks and dancing, and of course, food, festivities, friends and family. With all this merriment comes excess consumption and a lot of ‘stuff’, which in turn means a lot of waste. But how can you make your Christmas wonderful, not wasteful?

All I want for Christmas is a good recycling rate ♫

(OK I lied, I’m hoping for a gift or two as well!) But is it possible to find a balance between saving the planet and spreading Christmas cheer? With more clever recycling solutions than you can shake a Christmas yule log at, First Mile can help you enjoy the festive season while doing your bit for our environment. Here's how you can have a green Christmas...

Christmas Food Waste

In 2017, Brits threw the equivalent of 54 million platefuls of food away over the festive period. If you’ve over-catered, fear not: there are plenty of good leftovers recipes to help you make the most of your extra food.

But wait, there’s myrrh! Why not consider using a food sharing app such as Olio or Too Good To Go? If you still have excess food that can't be saved, using our food waste service is the way forward. Unlike your average composting service, recycling your food waste with us means that extra portion of Christmas cake and the sprouts you cook every year but never get eaten are transformed into biogas and rich fertiliser.

Christmas tree recycling

♫ Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how big is your carbon footprint? ♫

A green Christmas starts with a green tree! But how to choose?

Using a real Christmas tree is less damaging to our environment than most people think. While they are being grown, they produce oxygen (thank you trees!) and help improve and fortify the soil. Artificial trees are made of all sorts of plastics, and because these polymers are mixed together, separating them to be recycled isn’t possible. Then there are the resources used in the manufacturing process along with shipping them from China where the majority are made...

If you already own an artificial tree, please keep using it for as long as possible, and when you wish to part with it, make sure it’s donated and not thrown in the bin. For those of you using real ones, we can recycle Christmas trees into compost which can be used to grow next year’s tree. Use our tree-cycling service today!

How do I recycle…?

While there are some obvious green solutions to your festive waste needs, such as our electrical waste recycling service for those irreparable fairy lights, or a batteries recycling sack for those required in many Christmas gifts, not everything is as easy to recycle. Enter First Mile’s answer: the RecycleBox.

This humble but nifty box can help you recycle those tricky materials such as cartons, plastic baubles and corks. On Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve alone, a whopping 40 million bottles of champagne and sparkling wine will be enjoyed in the UK. Make your office party a Christmas corker to remember whilst sleighing your sustainability goals with this simple, planet-saving box!

Wrapping paper

♫ Last Christmas♫ 108 million rolls of wrapping paper were thrown away. That’s a shocking 277,000 miles which is enough to stretch from the equator to the moon! Not a very good sign of a green Christmas...

If you’re not ready to ditch wrapping paper, there is a quick and easy test you can do to check if your paper is recyclable, widely known as The Scrunch Test.

  1. Scrunch your wrapping paper into a tight ball
  2. Wait for a few seconds. If the paper stays in a ball, it’s recyclable. If the ball starts to open, it’s not recyclable.
  3. Place your recyclable wrapping paper in a First Mile mixed recycling sack. Or, if you discover your wrapping paper is not recyclable, use a First Mile zero-to-landfill general waste sack to ensure your paper goes to incineration, generating clean energy from waste, helping to power UK homes.

Be mindful of the added extras such as plastic ribbon. As pretty as it makes our presents look, it can’t be recycled with your mixed recycling. Be sure to use a separate flexible plastics bin for this along with other flexible packaging waste such as plastic film and carrier bags that can’t be reused.

Are you dreaming of a green Christmas?

Here’s how to Cut The Wrap and the Cr@p

After conducting a poll, First Mile found that 71% of adults who celebrate Christmas in the UK are concerned about the excess waste generated by consumption over the holiday season. 41% of them regifted unwanted presents, with 22% admitting to unwrapping gifts, then throwing them away before even removing the packaging! With all this in mind, we are here to help you have a greener Christmas both at home and at work.

Last year we kicked off our sustainable Christmas campaign by asking you all to cut the wrap, and you didn’t disappoint! Using alternatives to traditional wrapping paper is an easy and affordable way to reduce the amount of waste created over the festive season. Why not use a copy of Vogue to wrap your fashion-forward friends’ gifts, or old manuscript paper for your musical mates? Newspaper and good old-fashioned brown paper are good options too.

This year we are going one step further and encouraging you to also cut the cr@p out of Christmas. Be mindful when you’re shopping and try to make considered choices. Here are a few things to think about…

  • What materials is it made from?
  • Is the packaging easy to recycle?
  • Is it sustainable?
  • Is it wanted?
  • What is the quality like?

Avoid purchasing novelty gifts where possible as these are often poorly made and are likely to end up in the bin. Why not consider sharing an experience with your loved ones instead of spending on material things? You’ll cherish the memories you make and likely lower your impact on our planet. If this isn’t for you, try buying fewer, more thoughtful gifts rather than many cheap, novelty items.

Why not set up a sustainable wrapping station in your workplace? Encouraging staff to get creative with wrapping alternatives and lower-eco-impact decorations such as foliage and string will prove to be a fun activity and make everybody's Christmas greener. Having a creative outlet is great for mindfulness and general happiness. Happy staff are more productive, so it’s a win-win situation!

And don’t forget to share your creative wrapping alternatives and your sustainable gifting triumphs with the tag #CutTheWrap!

By Chloe Mills

Easy. Smart.
Green.

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