Do you ever feel guilty about the amount of waste packaging created on Christmas Day or are you just fed up with the extra bags of rubbish waiting for the first collection after the holiday?
This is a repost of an old blog with details updated. The packs from Muc-Off and M&S in 2) are from 2017 and given retailers’ constant quest for novelty are unlikely to still be aviailable (I’ve not managed to do a Christmas packaging survey this year!)
It’s not always possible to choose low packaging options if your loved one has their heart set on the latest toy or technology, but where you do have a choice here are some tips on how to reduce your packaging waste over Christmas;
1. Use Your Own Bags When Christmas Shopping
Since the introduction of the 5p bag tax in 2015, we’ve got used to taking reusable bags food shopping, but how many of us them for gift shopping too? Every single bag refused by a customer, whether paper or plastic, means fewer raw materials used and less energy used to produce, transport and recycle/ dispose of it.
2. Choose Gifts in Secondary-Use Packaging
Packs with a secondary use are a good way of making fabulous looking gifts – there aren’t many households without a repurposed traditional biscuit tin, even if it’s just used for keeping more biscuits in (which is a very noble cause if you ask me). More up to date examples include chocolates in a jewellery box from M&S and Muc-Off (the bike-cleaning experts) personal care kits in a tub perfect for keeping bike odds and ends in.
On the other hand…
3. Beware of Gift Packs!
Retailers and manufacturers are wise to the fact that we like an easy life and package gifts in easy to wrap boxes designed to make them fly off the shelves. These packs often contain large amounts of plastic packaging that can’t always be recycled, but we only really notice at the point of disposal. Consider buying the components separately and putting in a homemade gift box (see 6.) for a personal touch. However, gift boxes can be very competitively priced versus the individual components so some inconvenient plastic could be a small price to pay for a bargain – only you can decide that.
4. Buy from local makers / retailers online
Handmade gifts from craft markets use less packaging as they have not had to be protected with as much secondary transit packaging, usually unseen by us as shoppers, in order to ship it halfway round the world. Not only are you saving on packaging, but buying unique items, supporting your local economy and probably having a much better shopping experience – sipping mulled-wine and listening to local musicians. OK this is unlikely to happen for Christmas 2020 – Some craft markets are going online e.g. Hens Teeth in Barnsley and independent traders, such as Innana’s Festival in Norwich are offering country-wide delivery. Online shopping necessarily comes in (hopefully just enough) packaging to protect your purchases, so you might as well do some good while your at it.
5. Choose Recyclable Wrapping Papers
No-one can deny that half the fun of receiving a present is the unwrapping, and the fancier the better, but the decorative effects that make the papers so attractive make them difficult to recycle – many local councils don’t accept wrapping paper for recycling (or greetings cards) for this reason. Choose papers that have been decorated with print, not foil and glitter. It is great to see that since this blog was first published a number of retailers have banned recyclable glitter for cards and wrapping paper. Curling ribbon and premade bows are difficult to recycle too – it’s difficult to find recyclable alternatives – if anyone comes up with anything please let me know!
6. Make Your Own Reusable Boxes
I guess most of us have reused a gift bag at some point but how about covering old boxes with wrapping paper and lined with tissue paper to make reusable gift boxes? The photo shows a covered shoe-box my mum made a few years ago for a pair of vintage Babycham glasses for me. OK it takes a bit of time and planning, but you’ve got something that can be used again next year or if you’re conservative with the wrapping paper design the giftee can use it as a storage container. Follow this link to find out how to wrap a shoe-box from Karen Kaye, a professional gift-wrapper.
Of course if you really wanted to reduce packaging, you could look at giving gift vouchers, tickets, or a donation to charity on someone’s behalf – no packaging at all, except the envelope for the gift card. This year I’m sitting somewhere in the middle – giving smaller presents and spending the difference in donations to The Rucksack Project Barnsley – you get hold of a rucksack and fill it with warm clothing etc. The rucksacks are then given to people sleeping rough this winter.
Whatever you decide to do, Happy Christmas!
Do you have any more ideas on how to reduce your packaging footprint this Christmas? Let me know via email or @GreenwoodPkg on Twitter.
If you need help with the development of your packaging for 2021, please contact me.
Sarah Greenwood Packaging
07826 791 045