How to deal with the festive waste hangover…

Image credit: FutureEarth

The festivities are over… so, what happens now? What are we supposed to do with the waste and leftovers that come after a big celebration?

Hopefully, our tips and guides this month have helped cut the waste pile and there isn’t as much as usual – but, sometimes, avoiding it all together just isn’t that easy.

Here are some ways we can make sure we’re dealing with waste in a better way for the planet and other people:

Get creative with food

If there are a lot of food leftovers, there’s no reason for them to go straight into the bin (unless it’s posing a health hazard!).

If you’ve got veggies and grub from the dinner table, get creative and make it last. After all, who wants to be heading back out to the shops again when it’s time to chill out after the festive rush?

Try this bubble and squeak recipe for a tasty brunch, or check out this list of ideas for inspiration to make something a little bit different. From cauliflower dahl to turkey noodles, there’s something for every palette.

Give to charity

You’ll likely get some gifts that just aren’t really… you. Instead of throwing them away, think about regifting them to someone else who might appreciate them more.

If you’re not sure who to pass it on to, take the opportunity to give to charity, so someone else can make the most out of your unwanted gifts.

Replacing the old with the new

That leads us on nicely to what to do when new gifts replace old things. We may have got some lovely gifts that just make some of our old possessions, such as an old mobile phone, redundant.

Tech waste is a big problem – especially as research suggests this year’s global tech waste will weigh as much as the Great Wall of China – so stopping devices from ending up in the scrap heap is a big must.

Try selling old possessions online for a bit of post-Christmas cash, or give them away to someone in need.

There are also some great online groups, including C.R.A.P. Penwith, GOFA and Kids Clothesline where you can give away old stuff for free to help tackle the waste issue. Check out our signposting page for more

Dispose of the tree in the right way

In our Christmas tree blog, we talked about how composting your tree can actually be really bad for the environment.

Instead, keep your eyes peeled for local groups who might be looking for your unwanted trees to support their dune regeneration initiatives. Conservation group Beach Guardian is already calling for trees to be dropped at Trevisker Garden Centre to support their project at Constantine Bay.

However, it’s also worth noting that Cornwall Council will pick up Christmas trees when the festivities are over (check here for when that will be in your area) and dispose of them for you.

Get the recycling right

Unfortunately, Christmas tends to come with a lot of plastic waste – and not everything is recyclable.

Quick wins –  make sure that wrapping paper can be recycled (lots aren’t, so check first), and take any Sellotape off before popping it in the bag. Make sure any Christmas cards heading for the cardboard box aren’t covered in glitter too.

Don’t forget that, if presents are unwrapped carefully, the paper will keep for future gift-giving opportunities, and cards make great tags for next year.

There’s a handy guide on what can and can’t generally be recycled right here.

For more tips on sustainability and managing waste, keep an eye on our social channels (just click on Facebook and Instagram). 

How to eat well AND save the planet this Christmas

One of our favourite things about Christmas is the food – and can you blame us? From honey-roasted parsnips to homemade yule logs, it’s the time of year when we go all-out in the kitchen.

And that’s because sharing food with others is a key part of the festivities. Gathering around the table for Christmas dinner is just as (and, for some, more) exciting for families as opening presents.

The problem is that it’s also the time of year when a lot of food ends up going to waste; we over-buy, over-cook and over-indulge because ‘it’s the season’. In fact, it’s estimated around four million Christmas dinners go to waste in the UK each year.

So, how can you make sure your menu is kinder to the planet?

  1. Buy just enough

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re worried there’s not going to be enough food for everyone on the table. But a little extra of this or that can add up to a lot of waste.

To avoid leftovers, plan your menu so you know that every piece of food is likely to be consumed. Whether it’s cutting down to just one type of dessert or ditching the food you know no one likes but is considered ‘traditional’ (things like brussel sprouts, rich cakes and puddings), it all goes towards less food waste at the end of the festivities.

  1. Waste not, want not

If you do end up with waste, it’s not necessarily a bad thing – as long as you’re planning to do something with it.

For example, if you’ve got leftover meat and veg, rustle up a bubble-and-squeak breakfast on Boxing Day. Or why not stack up those turkey sandwiches for a post-Christmas picnic? Curry and pies are also good options.

Most foods will last a few days at least, so make the most of the Tupperware to store and eat every scrap to avoid the bin, if you can.

  1. Disposing of oils and fats

One of the big things to avoid after cooking is pouring oil down the sink. It’s not only bad for your pipes, but bad for the environment, too.

Instead, leave the oil to go hard before disposing into a bin, or contact your local council to find out their oil waste management protocols.

You could also make bird fat balls from the leftovers, but be aware that some fats can be dangerous to your feathered back garden friends.

  1. Shop local

Another way to greatly reduce your environmental impact is to get food and produce from local suppliers.

man carrying a box of vegetables.

Whether it’s heading to the local butcher for the turkey or dipping into the market or farm stall to pick up your veg, these products will have travelled far less than anything you’ll get in the supermarket – and you’ll be supporting local jobs and businesses at the same time.

They’re less likely to be wrapped in toxic plastic too.

  1. Avoid single-use

Did you know that 4,500 tonnes of tin foil will be used for cooking on Christmas Day this year? It’s just one of the ways single-use items are used on the road to the perfect Christmas dinner.

While the foil may be hard to replace, there are other ways to tackle the issue – like avoiding single-use trays for turkey and veg. Your trusty old metal tins will do the job perfectly fine.

Gatherings are also a pinch point; all those disposable plates and cups add to the waste pile. Scroll to the bottom of our Plastic Free PZ Life Hacks for tips on how else you can reduce single-use at festive get-togethers.

  1. Eat less meat

Our meat consumption is pushing the boundaries for a healthy planet, so the more plant-based you can go, the more sustainable your menu will be.

We’re not talking swapping to meat alternatives in plastic, though. It’s about balance and not everyone will want to ditch meat on Christmas Day. It’s about reducing the amount we eat instead and buying locally, sustainably and responsibly reared meat to cut carbon impact.

Making up the extra food with tasty veg dishes also ups healthy eating points, and gives more options for leftovers. Win, win!

For more tips on cutting your eco-impact this Christmas, keep an eye on our social channels (just click on Facebook and Instagram). 

Christmas Gift Guide: How to save money and waste

With Christmas well on the way, shopping for gifts is likely high on your agenda (and, if you’re anything like us, you’re probably already counting the pennies).

But, every year, it’s easy to get caught up in spending hard-earned cash on things we don’t really need, while simultaneously generating unnecessary waste.

The good news is that keeping things sustainable and affordable at Christmas is more straightforward than you think – and can even save you money.

Here, we’ve listed some of the top ways to have a greener Christmas, without the big price tag:

  1. Buy second-hand

One of the most sustainable things you can do this Christmas is buy second-hand – and the best part is that there are options for all budgets.

Whether you’re buying your loved one a vintage jacket you just know they would love, or you’ve found a beautiful trinket for Mum in the local charity shop, there’s always a pre-loved treasure just waiting to be found.

  1. Homemade gifts

Another way to keep things super green, super personal and super cheap is to hand-craft your gifts. Plus, you get all the added fun of doing it yourself!

There are plenty of easy-to-make recipes online (like these fudge, biscuits and cake recipes) if you’re a bit of a foodie, the sky really is the limit.

If baking isn’t your thing, head out into nature and find sea glass at your local beach for ocean-inspired collages, or wander into the woods and forage for craft materials.

  1. Shop local

Using Penzance’s shops is vital to a sustainable economy – plus, you’re far more likely to find unique, specialist gifts when you shop with independent and small businesses.

Not only does the money support local jobs and families, but here in Penzance you can also find lots of eco minded businesses and Plastic Free Champions who could have just the gifts you’re looking for.

We have tons of sustainable businesses right under our noses, and their specialist knowledge can go a long way to making shopping that much easier. Don’t assume it’ll be more expensive either; many shops will also have offers or payment deals. So keep your eyes peeled and go in for a chat.

  1. Buy quality, not quantity

Buying lots of cheaper gifts at Christmas might seem far more giving, but one of the best ways to be sustainable is to spend your money on just one gift that your loved-one really wants and needs.

Pooling your money together for one beautiful gift that you know will be appreciated and used, will go much further than investing in presents that won’t last the year.

To make things even easier, combining your money with someone else or setting up a gift exchange creates an achievable budget towards gifts you know won’t be wasted.

  1. Sustainable toys

We know that one of the hardest things for parents is finding truly sustainable toys, particularly when, in the past, wooden toys have been traditionally more expensive.

Children playing with wooden toys.

However, there are now lots of affordable wooden toy options out there, so you no longer have to invest in the plastic ones that break before you blink.

To go one-step further, head to your local charity shop and raid the toy section there – you’ll be surprised at what you might find.

Now, you can even hire toys and send them back when your kids are done.

  1. Gifting experiences

Our final option on this list of sustainable gifts is to give the gift of your time (and what could be more in the festive spirit than that?)

Rather than investing in more ‘stuff’, create some vouchers that you know will be appreciated in a whole different way.

Whether it’s a walk in their favourite place, a massage, a meal out or all of the above, there’s nothing better than just spending some decent time with the people you care about.

For more sustainability tips this Christmas, keep an eye on our blog and social channels (just click on Facebook and Instagram).