Posts tagged "presents"

Reducing waste after Christmas – our top tips

So the big day is nearly upon us again.

Hopefully you’ve already been busy upcycling random stuff into Christmas presents and recycled Christmas decorations – it’s easy to keep the green theme going after Christmas too.

Give away unwanted gifts & replaced items

Don’t wait until you spring clean – declutter now while all the new additions are fresh in your mind.

Give away items that you don’t want or won’t use, or old items that have been replaced by something shiny and new – the sooner you give it away, the sooner someone else will get some use out of it, and it might stop them having to buy new-new in the January sales.

Reuse wrapping paper

Don’t throw away wrapping paper – reuse it instead. The bigger pieces can be flattened out and used again (kids especially won’t notice the same paper being used year on year), or made into reusable paper gift bags.

Smaller pieces can be used to make gift tags, festive envelopes or used to revamp Christmas decorations for use next year.

Particularly creased pieces can be shredded to provide protective cushioning for gifts throughout the year – or to protect delicate Christmas decorations while in storage, which brings me neatly onto…

Be kind to your Christmas decorations

Store them away carefully and you’ll be able to use them year on year – meaning less waste going to landfill and reducing your need to buy new stuff.

As well as shredded wrapping paper, you can use packaging (such as moulded expanded polystyrene foam and formed plastic) from new toys or gadgets to protect delicate items. Wrap tinsel and strings of Christmas lights around a kitchen roll tube or a plastic bottle to avoid tangling. Label boxes so you can find them again easily.

If you don’t have any space for storage, don’t throw away decorations – pack them away neatly and offer them on Freecycle/Freegle.

Reuse or recycle your Christmas cards

Similarly, keep your favourite Christmas cards to one side – possibly tucked into a decorations box – to recycle into gift tags or recycled decorations next year. Cut others into narrow strips to use as shopping lists – the card is easier to write on than paper when you’re on the go. Keep large cards for crafts – for when you need thin but strong card. There are lots of different ways to reuse them.

If you can’t see yourself reusing them, plenty of high street shops have recycling collection bins especially for cards – typically WH Smith, Tesco and M&S – often with a donation going from the store to a related charity (such as the Woodland Trust) for every bin of cards collected. Some charity shops also collect cards for reusing/upcycling into gift tags and the like – ask around to see who is collecting them in your area.

Use up every single bit of your turkey – and other food

A lot of energy went into growing the bird, transporting it around and cooking it – so make the most of it by using up all the leftover meat and making stock from the carcass.

Use leftover veg to make soup, stews and stock.

Use leftover Christmas cake to make fruity rum truffles – or throw it outside for wild birds to eat.

If don’t think you’re going to get through all your Christmas biscuits or mince pies, be proactive about it before they go stale – freeze some for later consumption (keep the festival spirit going all January!) or give them away to someone else – they might be very grateful for free treats!

What are your favourite ways to reduce waste at Christmas?

(Photos by soultga, Tombre and Vanessa Fitzgerald)

What can I reuse or recycle to make small toys for kids?

From making dog toys last week to kids toys this week… We’ve had an email from Petra:

Thank you for your very nice and useful site. You helped me before, but now I have a new (reverse) question:

In a few months, my youngest daughter becomes 3 years old. On her day care, it is common to give the other (little) children a small present or healthy treat.

I prefer to give a small present, especially when it is useful and they can play with it for quite a while. Last year, I made them little bags from foam that was left over from a party.

This year, again, I would like to make something for the children, preferable a nice little toy by recycling stuff. But I’m out of ideas.

Could you or your readers help me with some ideas? It should not take too much time to make, since I need to make 20 of them. And they should be safe for little ones as well.

I’ve not had a lot of experience of making gifts for children en masse so I’m going to have to ask other people to help out here… Any ideas?

One suggestion I would make – and one that might be better for slightly older children – is to take advantage of free child labour ;) Provide them with the materials to, say, make their own puppet or little creature and encourage/help them to put it together/customise it themselves. Any more age appropriate suggestions?

Reducing at Christmas – how can I politely say thanks but no thanks to gifts?

christmas-present I meant to post this on Tuesday – the start of advent – but after being away, I didn’t have time to do it justice so here it is now.

I haven’t celebrated Christmas for about a decade. Because I’ve got a tiny-small family, Christmas was never a big deal in our house and my participation in it has waned as the years went on until I stopped celebrating it altogether in about 2001-2002. I’m not a Christian so all that side of things is lost on me, I see my family whenever I want to, and I give gifts when I see/make something for someone rather than waiting until a date in December. For the last few years, I’ve worked on Christmas day – a perfect low-traffic day for new introducing designs or features for websites we run. True, part of it is a somewhat cynical reaction to the huge amount of waste and excess at this time of year, but it’s not that I’m particularly bah humbug about it: I just don’t participate in it in the same way many people don’t celebrate, for example, Eid or Hanukkah.

The gifts thing though is still a bit of a problem. In previous years, we’ve had long, difficult arguments with our families over gift giving. Giving is a big part of Christmas for them and as much as we’ve tried to push them that way, giving to charities on our behalf just isn’t the same for them. We end up feeling selfish for not letting them buy stuff for us and ungrateful for not willingly accepting the stuff they inevitable do buy for us. But we spend all year trying very hard not to buy stuff we don’t need, to reduce our consumption and our waste output, and then get a selection of random unneeded things, often novelty items wrapped in one-time-use shiny paper and bows. I realise they’re gifts given out of love but it’s not just that – there is so much pressure to give commercially bought gifts at Christmas – last year, my mum said she felt she had to give me things because she’d bought stuff for my brother and it wouldn’t be fair otherwise. (I didn’t care about “fairness” but it was a big deal to her.)

Has anyone else been in a similar situation on the giving or receiving end? What strategies have you used to deal with it? I always thought Christmas lists to family as an adult were a bit snotty but I guess that would solve the unwanted/unneeded problem. I realise that the whole issue is a bit of a snotty, my-diamond-shoes-are-too-tight one but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(Photo by Vanessa Fitzgerald)