Published date: 19 December 2016

North London Waste Authority helps residents waste less to avoid a rubbish Christmas

As a nation we produce a tremendous amount of waste at Christmas. In London alone, over the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year, the average household throws out an extra five bags of rubbish, equating to 29,000 tonnes... That's enough wrapping paper to stretch to the moon! 

It’s important that we try to reduce the amount of waste we produce; the energy and resources required for both the manufacture and disposal of items increases our carbon footprint. 

Help is at hand, as North London Waste Authority through it’s Wise Up To Waste campaign, has lots of fabulous festive tips to help you waste less, recycle more which will save you money this Christmas!


Did you know...?

  • Each UK household splashes out £25 on average, for Christmas decorations each year – that’s more than £660 million in total.  But homemade decorations made from leftover household items like kitchen roll tubes or empty plastic bottles (with a splash of glitter), can make a great personalized decorations!
  • Eight million Christmas trees are brought in the UK every year, producing 12,000 tonnes of ‘green waste’, but buying an artificial tree will save you money every single year!
  • It is also estimated that 230,000 tonnes of food will be thrown away this festive period, including 9,300 tonnes of Brussel Sprouts – that just stinks!

Trees, cards and decorations

If you want a real tree, buy a UK grown one that you can plant in your garden or keep in a pot for next year. Artificial trees are even better as they can be used many, many times, and with care will last for a very long time. Here are three top tips for this:

  1. Choose decorations that can be reused or even better make your own, such as bunting or paper chains from old magazines or newspapers.

2. 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.

3. Send an e-card!


Christmas leftovers

When planning or attending festive celebrations, try to plan so that there are minimal leftovers, but if you do have leftovers:

  • Think of a way to use them up, such as asking guests to bring food containers
  • Transform them into tasty new meals
  • See if anything can be frozen - as long as they’re within their use-by date, and they weren’t frozen and defrosted already. Just watch out for salad and non-whipped cream, as theses won’t freeze so well
  • Check out the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ website, for has some great recipes 

The average family could save £700 per year by reducing food waste so we could all save ourselves a lot! Check out our ‘Food Waste’ page at for tips to help you make the most of the food you love.

In north London, you can recycle not only your wrapping paper (the non-shiny or glittery variety) and cards, but you can also recycle Christmas trees, electrical items, furniture, clothing and shoes too! For more information on exactly what you can recycle, where and when in north London visit the Wise Up To Waste ‘Recycle More’ page.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority, said:

 “The large amount of energy and resources required for both the manufacture and disposal of items during the Christmas period increases our carbon footprint. By planning ahead and making a few changes to what we buy, the way we dispose of our post Christmas waste and how we can make use of any leftovers will make a huge impact, save us money and ultimately, stop us from having a rubbish Christmas! ”  


Gift ideas

Here are some ideas for your Christmas presents this year:

  • 'Experience' gifts such as beauty treatments, a ticket to a show or day out are great
  • Choose gifts with reduced packaging where possible
  • Make your own! Give your gifts that personal touch (see our recipe links below for some ideas)
  • If you're still stuck for ideas, log onto for more festive suggestions 

Last year, NLWA worked with Hubbub to run cookery sessions, teaching all kinds of preserving techniques, which also make great Christmas presents. Recipes included chutney, preserved lemons, chutney, and pickled vegetables, such as Sauerkraut. 


Gift wrapping

  • Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper; they are durable, easy to use and can be used again and again
  • Try and old fashioned trick of wrapping presents in newspaper - then give them a modern look by finishing off with brightly coloured ribbon
  • If you do use wrapping paper - make sure that it's non-shiny or glittery paper, so that it can be recycled.

Wrapping paper