To reduce waste this festive season, Hampshire County Council is encouraging residents to give a priceless gift to their whole community, which costs nothing and requires no Christmas wrapping – the gift of passing on all the reusable items which are replaced this Christmas, either donating pre-loved items or selling second-hand, rather than discarding them, to continue each item’s useful life.

Christmas and New Year celebrations can be a welcome time of indulgence in the middle of winter, but at this time of year household waste levels peak, usually increasing by around 10% in January – not surprising when across the UK a staggering 300,000 tonnes of cardboard is used in homes during the festive season, which laid side by side would cover the return distance between London and Lapland a hundred times over!

Councillor Nick Adams-King, the County Council’s Executive Member for Universal Services, said: “Although most people regularly recycle to reduce the impact on climate change, it’s better for the environment, and your purse strings, to buy only what you need and so consume less in the first place. Christmas can be a really hard time to resist treating your family to an array of new items for the big day and buying lots of ready-made packaged foods.

“If we all stick to buying only what we need, we can significantly reduce the amount of household waste that needs to be disposed of and recycled. And if you’re given items that don’t really need replacing, or you will never use, you can donate these to charity or sell them, enabling someone else to avoid buying brand new items – it all has an impact on reducing our carbon footprint.

“There are other benefits too as living in a less cluttered home and having ‘saved or made’ money can be good for your wellbeing, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that each time you reuse, repair or buy second-hand, you’ll lessen your impact on the environment.”

Buy less, waste less this festive season

Across the UK*, the amount of potatoes thrown away annually could produce enough roasties on Christmas Day for the whole country – for 48 years. Not only that, but the amount of poultry also thrown away each year is enough to make 800 million Boxing Day curries!

Organising food is vital – top tips

  • When planning a food shop, use a portion planner and write a shopping list to buy exact quantities of what is needed
  • Ask guests to bring a reusable container with them, so they can take leftovers home to enjoy later
  • At meal times, let people help themselves from serving bowls – they are more likely to only take what they want, and any leftovers will be easier to use for another meal
  • Ask local food banks, community pantries, or homeless shelters if they could make use of suitable excess food items
  • When it comes to buying presents, the Green Gift Guide is full of ideas for sustainable gift-giving

Choosing outfits, sustainable fashion

  • Create home-made festive jumpers by adding a few Christmassy accessories to an old pullover
  • Choose second-hand party outfits from charity shops or online vintage platforms
  • Renting outfits is a great way to help prevent fast fashion and step out in style for a fraction of the price of buying new

The County Council’s Smart Living website has more ways to make festive savings and reduce waste.

Recycling festive waste

For any recycling that is not suitable for kerbside collection book a slot up to seven days in advance at one of Hampshire’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day).

  • Real trees are recyclable and, if taken to a local Household Waste Recycling Centre, will be composted or shredded into ProGrow, a soil conditioner that can be reused in gardens. Hampshire’s borough, district or city councils may also arrange drop-off points or special collections of real Christmas trees that are no longer needed. The dates when this will take place, along with any other changes to collections over the Christmas season, can be found on their websites.
  • Items such as metal biscuit and sweet tins, flattened cardboard delivery and toy boxes, plain cards and envelopes can all be added to kerbside recycling collections, after removing any tape, cellophane, and wire or plastic fasteners.
  • The wrapping paper scrunch test shows if it can be recycled – if it springs back open, it is likely to contain plastic and cannot be recycled. Any wrapping paper containing glitter or foil, or with sticky tape still attached, cannot be recycled.
  • All empty glass bottles and jars can be taken to a local bottle bank or added to your kerbside glass collection service where this is available.
  • Broken Christmas tree lights and electrical decorations, or everyday electrical appliances such as kettles or televisions, which cannot be repaired can be recycled through special electrical waste drop off points or any Household Waste Recycling Centre. Please don’t ever place used electricals or batteries in your kerbside waste bin or sack as this causes a fire risk.

The County Council’s new OurHants app, now available via Google Play or Apple App Store can be used to book visits to Household Waste Recycling Centres. The app allows residents to see and manage bookings in one place, receive notifications of any important updates about bookings, and allows users to save details, such as the registration of vehicles and any permits, to make future bookings quicker.

The County Council’s waste and recycling web pages detail further advice on the best ways to deal with all kinds of household waste.