Christmas is a good time to think about sustainability. It’s a time when indulgence and treats are taken to excess. Demand and production of food and products is increased and the waste we generate is magnified. A few simple changes to the way we do things at this time of year could ease pressure on the environment but, it doesn’t mean we have to cut back on the things we enjoy!
A few thought provoking facts about UK’s plastic waste generated at Christmas?
The UK sends 125,000 tonnes (five times the weight of the statue of liberty) of plastic waste to landfill each Christmas, according to The GWP Group. With an extra 30% of waste disposed at Christmas including, 300 million plastic cups and straws being discarded. Then there is 12,500 tonnes of Christmas decorations sent to landfill each year as reported by Business Waste. That includes, 68,488 miles of Christmas lights!
The main type of plastic waste during Christmas is disposable products. According to a survey, 81% of households admitted to using a disposable plastic tablecloth that went straight in the bin after Christmas. Other major types of plastic waste are toy packaging, synthetic Christmas jumpers (which shed 50% of their plastic microfibres the first time they are washed), plastic tape, and obviously food packaging.
Online shopping is now more popular than in-store shopping, but delivery packaging leaves a lot to be improved. Amazon itself admits it used 97,222 metric tons of single-use plastic to ship orders to customers accross its global operations network in 2021. This is an area they are working on reducing, but they will need to do a lot!
How is this a problem for our seas?
The problem is that plastic is so lightweight that it is easily picked up by the wind during rubbish collection or at landfills. It is then deposited near a water source and carried downstream, ultimately ending up in the sea. This is known as ‘leakage’ and is a major source of microplastics in freshwater. Then there are the people who don’t dispose of their plastic properly, creating a direct source of plastic entering the sea. All this plastic takes a toll on marine biodiversity through ingestion, bioaccumulation, increased risk of disease and entanglement. Making your Christmas more sustainable will help ease these problems.
But I recycle my plastic waste!
Recycling plastic is better than putting it in the general waste but you can’t be sure how much of the plastic you put in the recycling bin actually gets recycled. It’s far better to reduce and reuse plastic products, especially over Christmas.
How to make your Christmas more sustainable
- Support small businesses that are focused on sustainability. This means less plastic waste in their packaging and products, and more recyclable materials being used.
- Buy Christmas jumpers made from natural fibres, like wool or buy second-hand ones so you’re not releasing loads of microfibre plastics in the wash.
- Make your own decorations with sustainable materials, rather than buying plastic ones. Threaded popcorn looks just like snow! Not the crafty type? You could buy some naturally-made decorations from a local business.
- If you’re having a party don’t buy disposable plates and cutlery. Get your friends to bring their own. It’s all the rage at the moment!
- Reuse your plastic decorations next year or if you’re bored of them swap with friends and family. Donating to charity and buying second-hand decorations works too!
As we look to the future, we are seeing a shift towards more sustainable consumerism as more of us begin to care about our environmental footprint. By keeping up with these positive changes all year round we can reduce our impact and achieve our sustainable goals!
If you want to do even more to fight the plastic problem at Christmas, you can support us on eBay! Donate a portion of any sales, be they of unwanted gifts or preloved items and help us to achieve our mission.