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1st Jul, 2022

Festive waste guide aims to get Warwickshire residents in the eco spirit

FROM the real or fake Christmas tree conundrum to glittery cards and wrapping paper galore, the festive season can pose an eco minefield.

The guide below, courtesy of Warwickshire recycling experts, aims to help residents cut down on their waste in a number of ways and get them in the eco spirit.

Christmas trees:

It wouldn’t seem like Christmas without a tree, but which is the best option for the environment – real or fake – based on their full life cycle from production to disposal?

Potted Christmas trees are the best option for the environment. They won’t be thrown away after Christmas and, if you’re green fingered, can be reused next year.

In the meantime, it will continue to grow and take in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, creating a mini carbon sink – although they do require care and attention throughout the year.

Cut Christmas trees are the next best option because they aren’t made of fossil fuels and while growing take in carbon dioxide, taking in a estimated one tonnes of carbon dioxide per acre. Cut trees should be recycled through the green kerbside bin.

If you already have a plastic Christmas tree, it is important that you keep on using it. Production and disposal-wise, it is the least environmentally friendly option but that they don’t decompose is also a strong point as they will last for years. You will need to use the tree for between 12 and 15 years to account for its carbon footprint, but even longer would be better.

Food waste:

It is estimated 7 million tonnes of food are thrown away every Christmas – even food which could have been eaten as leftovers the next day.

Follow these tips for avoiding food waste from planning through to using up leftovers.

Plan ahead – only buy enough food for the planned meals and number of guests, and check expiry dates.

Try to avoid getting carried away with bargains and tempting displays of treats and luxury items.

If you’re having turkey check sizes carefully.

Make sure there’s room in the freezer before the big day.

For those short of fridge space, take advantage of the cold weather and consider keeping fruit, veg and drinks fresh in a cool box outside or even in the car boot.

Don’t overdo buffet food or nibbles and put leftovers away in the fridge rather than leave them out overnight to spoil.

Check fridges before travelling away from home and freeze or pass on any food that will be out of date by your return.

Try out apps, such as OLIO, to share food with those nearby, as well as family and friends.

Remember food might still be eaten after its best before date – check it looks and smells OK. Food past its best can still be enjoyed in other ways, like a healthy home-made soup.

If turkey leftovers are never-ending, cook up a batch of stew or curry and freeze it for January.

Gift wrap:

It is possible to give beautifully wrapped gifts that are still eco-friendly.

Avoiding plastics is a good place to start but also think about buying wrapping that can be either reused or recycled. Although most are paper based, they can be coated in plastic, making it very difficult to separate out the paper for recycling. Try to buy wrapping paper that is 100 per cent paper and glitter free. Try the scrunch test if you are unsure whether it is recyclable – if you can’t scrunch it, you can’t recycle it. Try to take off as much sellotape as possible if it’s recyclable.

The notoriety of Christmas paper has seen the rise of many eco wrapping trends – from decorating brown post office paper and using string to upcycling fabric or wrapping in scarves.


Charity shops are a treasure trove full of unusual items that will cost a fraction of their original price as well as being kind to the environment. Go with a budget and an open mind – you might even pick up a fabulous outfit for that Christmas party.

If you have some time on your hands you could give upcycled or handmade gifts a try. Reuse jars and old candle wax to make a personalised candle for a loved one, try your hand at a Christmas jam recipe or decorate an old wooden frame and pop in a photo. Try Pinterest for more ideas.


If you do receive cards, most are paper based and can be recycled, along with their envelopes. Although embellishments such as ribbons or glitter cannot be recycled so should be removed first by simply tearing off that section.

Batteries should also be removed from musical cards and disposed of at battery recycling points.

If you want to be more eco-concious while still letting friends and family you’re thinking of them – consider an E-card or, if you find that too impersonal, compromise with a festive postcard to save on envelope recycling.


Foil is one of the most important materials to recycle due to the environmental benefits it offers. The good news is clean household foil and aluminium trays are widely recycled in household collection schemes, household waste recycling centres and at recycling points. Collect any small pieces of foil in a tin can so they don’t get lost.


According to Directgov, over 12,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions could be avoided, if the UK can meet its recycling target of at least 45 per cent of batteries. There are different types of batteries which contain dangerous chemicals including lead, cadmium, zinc, lithium and even mercury. So, it’s really important they are disposed of correctly through recycling schemes and not placed in a general waste bin.

Most shops and supermarkets selling batteries have collection bins in-store for used batteries. You can also recycle them at your local recycling centre or check with your council for kerbside collection services.

If you’ve been inspired to take a more eco-approach to your home-life, why not make it your new year’s resolution? Try signing up for Slim Your Bin for more tips and encouragement from experts and other residents committed to reducing their carbon footprint. You can gain points towards prizes for actions you take to waste less and recycle more. Visit to get started.

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