Do you want to avoid piles of unwanted gifts at Christmas?  Want to minimise left over food and unnecessary packaging? Here are 10 simple steps for producing less waste at Christmas.
With the festive season around the corner here are my top tips for reducing your waste. 

#1  Choose gifts with less packaging

Use your buying power to make a stance against packaging. This goes goes a long way to creating a more sustainable future. There are plenty of brands who have embraced this so why not support them?
I am always on the look out for more suggestions so why not share your unpackaged gift ideas in the comments below.
You can read part one of my Christmas Blogs here:
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

#2 Turn your Journey home for Christmas into a Carbon Free Adventure


In 2015 explorer and endurance athlete Laura Kennington paddled home for Christmas.  She kayaked along the Thames, a great way to travel with less carbon emissions and hence less waste!

Why not think up your own carbon free journey? Cycle home for Christmas? Take public transport? Car pooling can also turn into a mini adventure. By sharing a ride, it has a positive impact on reducing your carbon footprint. #PaddleHomeForChristmas
Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

#3  Food


Try Local and seasonal

Anyone else notice how summery November was this year? Much of our supermarket food is flown or shipped half way across the world these days. Thereby causing a huge carbon footprint which leads to to global warming.
Buying your food in local shops and farmers markets not only reduces the field to fork journey. It also supports local independent businesses and entrepreneurs. Many local shops and farmers markets also come with less packaging, bonus!
Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash
plastic free shopping

Shop Wise

If you do need to head to a supermarket take a reuse container with you for deli items. Get your fruit and veg loose where you can (some supermarkets are better than others of course). Greenpeace recently published a report summarised in the info graph below.

Click the image to buy produce bags if you don’t already have some.

Click the image to buy plastic free containers to take to the shops with you.

Reduce waste

Separate compostables where you can and recycle what you can. Also:
Check out these top five tips by Love Food Hate Waste to help you make the most of the festive fare in your kitchen.
Sign up for the food share app Olio and see if there is someone in your community who can use your left over food.

#4 Get Creative with Wrapping

Did you know not all wrapping paper is recyclable? Any sparkly wrap is generally not recycled. To find out what is, you should check your Local Authority recycling or check on the site.
In those circumstances, the whole batch of recycling is likely to end up in landfill.  Even so, remember that recycling is quite far down the waste pyramid so keep and reuse where possible.
Think outside the box. These all make great alternatives:
  • old magazines
  • newspaper
  • old bits of fabric
  • maps
  • brown paper
  • last years reused wrapping paper
  • the wrap from Who Gives a Crap loo roll
These guys also make recycled wrapping paper which is pretty cool:
Wrag Wrap make these reusable fabric wrapping bags.  For more information or to buy click the image:

#5 Decorations

Reuse / buy non plastic where possible / make your own.
There are some lovely wooden, felt and fabric decorations out there. I love the Christmas Trees below by Loveheart Wood.
In all cases, check they are sustainably sourced. I collect decorations on my travels. So my tree ends up being a reminder of my adventures as well as supporting local crafts around the world.
You can also make amazing decorations . Try gingerbread cookies or air drying clay.

#6 Gift time instead of stuff

There is far too much emphasis on stuff these days. Gifting an experience is a really simple way to reduce waste at Christmas.  It could be a uniquely planned day out with a home made voucher. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It is a great way to get friends and family together and to enrich their lives to do something new.
Here are some ideas:
  • Experiences – maybe a kayak lesson
  • Memberships –  National Trust
  • Adoptions that support a charity
  • Subscriptions – to a magazine
  • Lessons – music, singing, art, fitness
  • Treatments – massage, yoga workshop
  • Tickets – comedy, music, theatre
There are loads more eco gift ideas on my Gifts blog.

#7 Re-Gift Unwanted Stuff

  If you do have an unwanted gift it is easy enough to find a new home for it on Ebay, Freegle or Gumtree. 

#8 Set an example about giving and decluttering

Why not use the opportunity to declutter and take things you don’t need to a charity shop?
Turn it into a game if you have kids. Have them bag up their old toys they don’t want and leave them under the tree for Santa to share with other children. Make sure Santa remembers to take them with him!
Take inspiration from the Minimalists. Unsure who they are? You can find their books and film below or check out their blog.

#9 Christmas Cards

Try E-Cards. Donate to charity instead and inform your friends and family that is what you are doing by email or socials. I usually buy a place for a homeless person via Shelter but this year I am taking it one step further and spending a night sleeping out to raise money for the Clock Tower Sanctuary homeless shelter.  
I will be sleeping rough on Brighton Seafront on 18th December with nothing more than a roll mat, sleeping bag and small tent / bivvy.  I aim to raise a minimum of £150 in order to help with their urgent winter appeal. It will very likely be cold and wet and windy but these are the conditions faced by homeless everyday.  It would be great if you chose this to donate to instead of cards.  Please make sure you mention Clare Talks Rubbish on the donation so I can track my target of £150.  Thank you for your support! Homelessness in England is reportedly up 169% since 2010. Julian Bishop, director of Bishop Sullivan Lettings in Brighton, is organising the Big City  Sleepout. “A  significant number of Brighton & Hove residents are homeless or living in insecure accommodation,” he said. “This may seem unbelievable in this modern age, but sadly, it is true. It is said you are only five pay packets away from life on the streets – homelessness could happen to anyone”. Why not join me! ? #YoungColdAlone

#10 Tree

I have a plastic one I reuse which usually surprises people. It is good quality though and has lasted me years.
For real trees, get a sustainably grown one. After Christmas find a tree recycling point. These are usually listed on your Local Authority website.
You can also rent trees from some places and they get replanted for next year! Or why not have a tree in a pot that you can reuse each year.
Whatever tree you have dispose of it responsibly.
Did you know LED lights use up to 90% less energy than standard bulbs? Consider using or switching to these.  Some eco tree, bauble and light ideas to buy are below just click the images:

Workshops coming up in 2019

I will be running some workshops in 2019 with tips for reducing waste in your life at home and at work.  These will be very low cost and a great opportunity to download some of the tips I have learnt over the years.  Sign up to my newsletter to be the first to hear about them.
Please also note that I have included one or two affiliate links above. I am trying it as an experiment to see how I can make this platform sustainable in the future.