With the festive season upon us, we know there will be an increase in gifting (and therefore plastic and cardboard packaging), sparkly wrapping paper and cards, and what can seem like an endless stream of festive food.

Christmas can prove to be a wasteful time – but it doesn’t have to be. As we become increasingly aware of the impact of our actions and purchases on the planet, we can all take steps to reduce the carbon footprint of our festive celebrations.

Enjoying Christmas in a more responsible way is becoming more and more important to us all. Four out of five of us in Edinburgh agree we all have a responsibility to cut down on waste this Christmas,  and there’s lots we can all do. 

Last Christmas you helped the City of Edinburgh Council recycle 6,795 tonnes of waste –  that’s about the same weight as 57,600 Santa’s.

Together, we have put together some handy tips and guidance to help you have a greener, net zero Christmas:

  • Consider shopping at plastic-free and second-hand shops in Edinburgh. You can use the Zero Waste Edinburgh map to find your nearest plastic free and wholesale grocery shops.
  • Make your own gifts. Be it a tasty treat or crafty surprise, it’s a good way of giving a thoughtful gift without the waste.
  • Gift memberships, experiences or even your time. Create moments that will be remembered for someone you care about, without the extra packaging.
  • Choose well, shop local. Supporting local suppliers and shops will help minimise your carbon footprint.
  • Use easy to reuse gift and sustainable wrapping (or make your own!). Then unwrap gifts carefully, remove tape and tags and keep to re-gift next year.

To help with festive recycling, we suggest:

  • Give your plastics and cans a rinse before they go in the bin. They don’t need to be sparkling clean but doing this helps make sure the recycling is high quality and can be properly recycled.
  • Always flatten and fold your cardboard boxes. If you have any extra cardboard you can’t fit in your recycling bin, make sure it’s bundled up and place it neatly beside it, and we’ll recycle it for you. 
  • It’s hard to be totally plastic free at Christmas. Find out how and where you can recycle unwanted plastic bags and wrappers in Edinburgh.
  • Save money and avoid food waste by turning your leftovers into delicious meals. Check out love food hate waste for tasty recipes. Any scraps that are leftover can be popped in your food waste bin.
  • Learn more about what happens to your recycling and waste.

For businesses:

  • Choose energy efficient decorations, or consider making your own. This could be a good team building activity.
  • If you are gifting, use local suppliers, or plastic free stores to purchase your gifts.
  • Consider sending e-cards rather than posting cards. If you do send physical cards, choose sustainably sourced and recyclable cards.

We wish you a very merry and sustainable festive season!