Day 1

Christmas is the most wasteful time of the year. The Christmas waste stats show an ever-increasing amount of waste collected during the festive season, especially food, packaging, wrapping paper, gifts and Christmas decorations.


In this page, we’ve put together a whole range of handy Christmas tips and information to help north London residents to waste less and save more this Christmas.

Christmas gifts

One great way to reduce waste at Christmas is make a home-made gift, buy something second-hand, or buy an ‘experience’ gift. We have a dedicated section on our website, full of gift ideas. Some great gift ideas in this link.

What can be recycled?

Most Christmas waste can be recycled in north London but there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Any cards or paper with glitter on them. This is because when the recycling gets passed on to a paper mill, then don't want bits of glitter appearing in their end product.
  • Metallic or glittery wrapping paper that springs back when you scrunch it. This is made from a combination of paper and thin metal and it would require a lot of energy to separate the two materials. From an environmental and financial perspective, it is not worth recycling it.
  • Polystyrene. This material can be found in most packaging, since it is very cheap to produce. As with metallic wrapping paper recycling it would require a lot of energy to recycle, so it is unfortunately not worth recycling it.

Reducing food waste at Christmas

During the festive period British families waste up to 30% more food than the rest of the year.  More £64 million Christmas dinners go uneaten every year. But fear not, our top food waste reduction tips will help you reduce your waste during the festive season:

  1. Make space in the freezer in advance. The freezer is a fantastic food waste reduction tool, acting as a pause button - as long as food is within its 'use by' date, it will stay fresh for up to six months. Almost any food can be frozen (just not cream and salad).
  2. Try to plan festive meals in advance and stick to your shopping list. This should help avoid food from getting forgotten and going past its 'use by' date.
  3. Use up leftovers. Our food waste leaflet is full of recipes which can transform leftovers into delicious new meals. You can also just search online, listing your ingredients, and the search engine will show you a whole list of recipes.

Check out our food waste reduction pages for more tips to help you make the most of the food you love.

Gift wrapping and decorations

Each Christmas as much as 227,000 miles of wrapping paper ends up in UK rubbish bins. If you are looking for more environmentally friendly options this season, please see our suggestions.

  • If you are buying presents, try to choose items without excessive packaging.
  • When gift-wrapping, consider reusing old wrapping paper, using recyclable brown paper, or using material as an alternative, following the Japanese furoshiki technique.
  • If you have the space, buy a living Christmas tree, which can be left in its pot outside for the rest of the year. You can also hire a Christmas tree - just search online and you will find companies that deliver and collect a live tree.
  • Buy good quality decorations which can be used year after year. You could also try making your own decorations, such as bunting or paper chains from old magazines or newspapers.
  • Try making your own cards or gift tags by cutting up last year’s Christmas cards and using other materials such as pieces of shiny card from packaging and images from magazines.