Plastic-free Christmas: Your tips to cut back on waste

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Hoye family at Christmas table
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The Hoye family shared their tips for a plastic-free Christmas

After we brought you the story of the Hoye family who are trying to make Christmas plastic free, many of you got in touch with your tips on how to cut down on waste over the festive period.

Lydia 42, Dan, 40, Emanuel, 10, and Inés, four, from Bingham in Nottinghamshire, said they now look at the festive season differently. And it seems they are not alone in wanting to be kinder to the environment at Christmas.

Here are a few of your ideas:

Material gift wrapping

Image source, Ruth Mulligan
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Ruth says her family get together before Christmas to make reusable material gift bags

Ruth Mulligan, from Cheltenham, and her family are sewing material present bags to make sure their wrapping can be reused.

She is also aiming to make her own beeswax wraps to store festive food and get rid of cling film.

"We select presents carefully for our children, endeavouring to choose gifts and experiences with lasting value or giving a great memory.

"Similarly, this year all of my extended family and friends will be receiving thoughtful gifts to help reduce plastic waste, either thermal cups, nice water bottles, beautiful compact shopping bags or lovely bars of soap," she said.

Conscious consumers

Image source, @themummyhomestead
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Hannah buys wooden toys to cut down on plastic at Christmas time

Hannah Allen, from Herefordshire, says her family have a "buy less, buy better" policy.

She says they choose "ethically made wooden toys and Fairtrade chocolate from online ethical retailers, rather than lots and lots of mass produced plastic toys and cheap chocolate".

"It does mean we go without some of the latest gadgets and technology, but knowing we're not contributing to the mountains of waste makes it worth it," she said.

"I feel we are leading by example by showing friends and family there is another way, that having a fun Christmas, with great gifts and food doesn't need to involve excessive waste, and by being conscious consumers, we can have less of an impact on our planet."

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Rebecca's mother started the 'Wrapping Paper Day' tradition during the Great Depression

Taking inspiration from the Great Depression

Rebecca Jenness, from Massachusetts in the United States, got in touch to tell us about her family's tradition of using potato prints to transform old paper into wrapping paper.

"I think it got its start when my mother was growing up in the Great Depression. There wasn't money for "official" Christmas wrap in those days and it was a practical way of making a festive holiday.

"Early in December, on some dreary day not long after Thanksgiving, she would declare 'Wrapping Paper Day'."

Rebecca says her mother would spread the kitchen table with newspaper before slicing potatoes in half, cutting an image such as a star or tree in them to dip in paint and print a big roll of paper.

"When I had my own children, it was natural for me to continue the tradition," she said.

Trees and Bees

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Half of Allison's family donates to the Woodland Trust and the other half gives money to help bees in lieu of present buying

Allison Day, from Somerset, said her novel idea to cut waste at Christmas, came to her in the shower.

"Trees and bees seemed like an obvious choice to support the environment, so we suggested that one side of the family could make a donation to the Woodland Trust and the other to an apiary in the UK."

She was expecting some resistance but the idea was embraced by her family.

"To be honest it feels like a huge relief for all of us to no longer have to buy for the sake of buying, do something that feels good and focus on what really matters during the the festive season - family, friends and this precious planet we all inhabit."

Homemade presents

Image source, Getty Images
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Bethan makes her own presents to cut down on plastic packaging

Bethan Wynton, from London, said she tries to make a lot of her presents to cut down on plastics, so her gifts include things like mince pies, truffles, sloe gin and tree decorations.

"Aside from trying to reduce plastic consumption, I try to support small businesses too as I feel that the negative environmental impact and large brands often go hand-in-hand."

She said she has also bought some "Bee Bombs" for family members with gardens, which are seed balls containing wildflower seeds to encourage more bees.

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