How To Reduce Waste This Festive Season Menu >

Call for a quote on 0800 064 8424

You are here:   >   UIA Mutual Insurance   >   Blog  >   How To Reduce Waste This Festive Season

How To Reduce Waste This Festive Season

The UK creates an extra 30% of extra waste during Christmas. This includes 1 billion Christmas cards, 17.2 million sprouts—enough to fill the Great Pyramid of Giza, the equivalent of 2 million turkeys, and 6 million Christmas trees. From excessive packaging to carbon footprints, here are some of our top tips to help you reduce your waste this festive season.

Every year Brits spend a total of £700 million on unwanted presents and approximately 100 million black bags full of packaging from toys and gifts are discarded.

  • Minimise the number of gifts you need to purchase by organising Secret Santa groups with your family, friends, and work colleagues. Focus on quality over quantity.
  • Buy your loved ones experiences. Gig or theatre tickets, sporting events, cooking classes, and spa days, always go down a treat. Use sites like Groupon to find bargain vouchers, and try to book local attractions and events to reduce your gift’s carbon footprint.
Collect Moments Not Things

  • Reduce packaging waste with digital subscriptions. Magazine subscription services are perfect for tablet readers. Gone are the days of buying a CD as a gift, why not purchase a Spotify Premium or Apple Music subscription for the music lover in your life. To add a personal touch, why not load a hard drive with a loved one’s favourite albums or music from your memories together. Who says the mixtape is dead?
  • Consider memberships such as National Trust or English Heritage annual membership, or an Artfund National Art Pass for the culture vulture in your life. Membership to a local zoo can mean fun for all the family. Give a movie lover a membership card to their local cinema to watch the latest releases.
  • Homemade edible presents such as preserves, or cake mixes in a jar, are a thoughtful personalised gift. Package your goodies in glass jars which can be picked up from charity shops, reused and recycled. Give food items that last beyond the festive season as most households over purchase food during December so try to avoid contributing to the 270,000 tonnes of food wasted in the UK every year. During the festive season this is the equivalent to scraping 4.2 million Christmas dinners into the bin.
  • Buying a present is the perfect opportunity to give a fancy eco-friendly item. Reusable water bottles and coffee cups are a chic and practical gift. Metal and glass straws are the perfect stocking fillers for adults, with less fragile silicone versions for children. Have a loved one with green fingers? Locally sourced plants and terrariums are a wonderful eco-friendly gift.
  • In the UK, during Christmas we will use 189 million batteries for toys, gadgets, and lights, throwing away around seven per household. Use rechargeable batteries everywhere you can, and take dead batteries to your local supermarket for recycling.
Every year the UK throws away more than 277,000 miles of Christmas wrapping paper, which is the distance to the moon or over 11 times around the earth. Did you know that the majority of wrapping paper is not recyclable and is often a source of ocean harming micro plastics?

  • Check out British brands such as Re-wrapped for beautiful recycled wrapping paper. If affordability is the name of the game, jump on the brown paper trend and get creative with Pinterest by tying up your gifts with twine or reusable ribbon. Plus you can decorate your paper with beautiful Christmas stamps.
Gifts wraped in brown paper and twine 
  • Brits use around 40 million rolls of plastic sticky tape over the festive period. Switch this out for biodegradable decorative washi tape to secure your gifts instead.
  • Replace wrapping paper altogether and master the Japanese art of Furoshiki, a traditional method of beautifully wrapping with fabric. Scarves make a great bonus gift to wrap presents in, plus you can check out charity shops for affordable broaches to secure your packages and make them extra special. Wrapping a foodie gift? Use a fabric napkin.
  • Plan ahead for next year’s festivities. Save the front of Christmas cards to reuse as gift tags next year, and recycle the rest. If you receive a present in a gift bag, hold onto it to re-gift to someone else.
  • Some wrapping paper is still recyclable. Do the scrunch test, if the paper remains scrunched and is not covered in glitter, it can go in your recycling bin.


Every year 4 million tonnes of food is thrown away during the Christmas period- the equivalent of 74 million mince pies, 5 million Christmas puddings and 2 million turkeys.

  • Within your budget, buy your fruit, veg, and meat locally to reduce food miles. Support your local market, farm shops, and butchers.
  • Doing a supermarket shop? Don’t forget the bags for life. Single use plastic bags take anywhere between 10-1000 years to decompose.
  • When picking out seasonal treats avoid individually wrapped items with excessive plastic packaging. Go for metal tins over plastic for your annual box of chocolates, or consider whether you can recycle or reuse plastic boxes.

    Preparing Christmas Dinner
  • Do you have a zero waste shop in your local area? Take along some jars and containers to pick up your Christmas nuts and other goodies.
  • Have a plan for your leftovers and don’t purchase food you haven’t allocated to a specific meal. Take your Christmas dinner leftovers to the next level, from the late night Christmas Day sandwich, to The Ultimate Christmas Loaf.
  • Use veg to make a soup or brussels sprout bubble and squeak cakes. Lots of turkey leftover? Make turkey, stuffing & cranberry sausage rolls, turkey, cranberry & brie pie or a classic turkey curry.
  • Be mindful how your store leftovers. 1.2 billion metres, equating to 745,000 miles of cling film is used by British households every year, most of which ends up in landfill. Reuse glass jars and food storage boxes to store your Christmas food instead. You can also invest in reusable beeswax wraps as a plastic free cling film alternative.

Preparing for Christmas can be stressful but our easy green swaps can at least prevent you from putting more pressure on our planet. Check out our Pinterest account and dedicated board for more green ideas. During the festive season buying insurance may not be at the top of your list, but UIA Mutual ensure you and your family are offered competitive premiums on your Home, Car, Travel and Pet Insurance – so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Find out more about how UIA Mutual insurance can help you and your family.