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Cleaning up after Christmas: how much do we waste?

The festive period is the perfect time to sit back and celebrate with your family and friends. But before you can start planning your New Year resolutions, you’ll need to deal with the Christmas clean up!

At New Year, many people focus on their health by detoxing and cleaning up their eating habits after a month of overindulgence. It’s a good time of year to schedule health screenings and dentists appointments, and while you’re at it, take a look at how you plan for your long-term health in general. If you have concerns about things like cancer or heart conditions, it might be a good idea to find out more about private health insurance.

But there’s another kind of clean up going on in homes across the country: did you know that each year the UK buys an estimated 8 million Christmas trees, 8000 tonnes of wrapping paper and 1 billion Christmas cards, but where does it all go when January comes around?

Here’s how you and your family can make Christmas more eco-friendly, and help to save the planet from all that extra waste:

Make the most of your recycling

Many councils will have extra collection dates for your recycling bins to help clear all the leftover wrapping paper and cardboard, so try to use your general waste bin as little as you can. If you have a lot to get rid of, why not visit your local recycling centre on Boxing Day? They’ll accept everything from wrapping paper and glass bottles to your old Christmas tree! Don’t forget to remove any sellotape, bows or plastic parts from any packaging you recycle.

Gift tags and cards can be put away and re-used next year – this can also double up as a fun crafts project for the little ones. Alternatively, M&S will be accepting your old Christmas cards throughout January to help support the Woodland Trust.


Did you get a new scarf, hat or pair of gloves in the office Secret Santa? Don’t throw away or stick the old ones into a drawer, take them down to a local homeless charity. This winter is guaranteed to be a cold one so all donations will be kindly welcomed, including any old coats, blankets or unused toiletries. If your wardrobe is looking a bit full after all the Christmas parties, why not donate some clothes to a local charity shop? It’ll also free up some space for the January sales!

If you were lucky enough to receive lots of Christmas cards, keep the stamps and donate to a charity. Many stores run stamp appeals all year round in order to raise money from the resale prices.

Food and drink

Most of us are guilty of overeating at Christmas, but despite our festive appetites far too much food is still ending up in the bin. If you have a compost heap, make sure to toss in any unwanted fruit or veg (most likely the Brussels sprouts!). Clean and remove the labels of any empty mincemeat jars and other glass bottles before placing them in the recycling bin.

Before you start cleaning the table, pause and think about what you can make from the leftovers – turkey soup and sandwiches can be the perfect Boxing Day treat!

Do you have any Christmas clean-up tips?

Image by shehan365

One comment

  1. I try really hard to rotate really well and plan meals around what I have that needs eaten. I have messed up with ‘cream’ this year and we ended up throwing out 2 half eaten pots, but otherwise I’m very proud we’ve not wasted anything but plate scraps :)
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