It all seems a dim memory now but with council bin collections only just getting back to normal, Susan Froome looks at the after effects of a great Christmas.

So… Christmas has been and gone, decorations have been taken down (sadly) and I don’t have a fairy light in sight (again, sadly). 

But what I do have is a pile of empty toy boxes, bags of ripped wrapping paper and several empty tubs of Quality Street, Roses, Heroes… you get the gist. I have also gained a few (or more) unwanted lbs but that’s an article for another time.

Our bins have been emptied once since Christmas but we still have so much, which got me thinking about the amount of waste Christmas produces and how we can combat that.

As I LOVE Christmas we have an artificial tree and a real one

SusanFroome Susan Froome Marketing Administrator at Mitsubishi Electric

Christmas Trees – Real vs fake

According to an article on the telegraph website most would believe an artificial tree would be the most ecological choice rather than chopping down a real tree.  But in fact a real tree comes out top. 

Christmas Trees are essentially farmed and when one is cut down another is planted and a real tree can be recycled.  The only downside would be if the tree has been imported then there will be a significantly higher carbon footprint.

A fake tree – no pine needle mess so need to get your hoover out as often – bonus!  Once you have paid for your artificial tree there is no need  to buy a new one each year.

Here’s the downside, The Carbon Trust estimates that a two metre tall artificial tree has twice the carbon footprint of a real tree, due to the plastic and metal which take a lot of energy to produce and has more synthetic waste to be disposed of.  You would need to use your artificial tree for 10 years to offset the carbon footprint.

As I LOVE Christmas we have an artificial tree (which we have had for 9 years) and is still as beautiful as the day we bought it and a real tree which we squeeze into our kitchen. 

This year we took the tree to a local gardening company who were disposing of real trees for a donation to Isabel’s Hospice.  So win win.  They were also offering free fire logs, oh to be lucky enough to have a real open fireplace.

See how much lions love a Christmas tree Donating your old tree to a nearby zoo can bring a lot of joy

The most unusual way of recycling your real tree is to donate it to a zoo… (minus, the lights, baubles and tinsel) yep apparently this has become a thing. 

It has been introduced as part of an enrichment programme and the elephant’s, meerkats, chimpanzees and even lions love them.  Food is hidden in the trees to encourage foraging and play.  The trees are like “catnip” to the lions and other trees are used in the zoo’s bio-burner to provide additional heating to the buildings.

Wrapping Paper

Did you know that last year it was estimated that us Brits would throw out 108 million rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, and if all the wrapping paper we threw away was laid out in a line it would reach all the way to the moon!!

On Christmas morning with two very excited little girls ripping paper and dashing ribbons and bows all over the place I genuinely could not see my carpet, I kept a smile on my face but inside the OCD me was in despair.  Where was all this rubbish going to go?

You see, wrapping paper can rarely be recycled due to any glitter, foil or sellotape that may be on it meaning that it will all end up in landfill. 

I read an article in glamour magazine which offers many different alternatives when it comes to wrapping a gift, there should be a style on there that suits everyone. My colleague informed me that her friend wraps all presents with newspaper – what a great idea. 

Another idea would be to use twine and holly sprogs instead of ribbons and bows.

But an article in the telegraph caught my eye stating that we discard 100 million black bags worth of toy packaging at Christmas.  That’s just crazy.

Toy and gift packaging consists of many different materials such as cardboard, plastic and paper.  Meaning some of the packaging is recyclable while others are not.

A few useful tips

Some tips I read on www.recyclenow.com are:

  • Remove plastic windows from cardboard boxes before recycling - the plastic window should be put in the rubbish bin

  • Flatten cardboard for ease of transport to recycling facilities or to fit more into your household recycling bin

  • Plastic blisters marked PET or PETE can be recycled by most local authorities but please check with your council in the first instance

  • Wire ties should be kept aside from the rest of the packaging. These are not generally recyclable but could be re-used i.e. for tying up plants in the garden or resealing half used packets of frozen vegetables

  • Remove the rope or ribbon handles from gift bags - these can be re-used or should be placed in the rubbish bin

To sum it all up I am not sure how we can combat all of this but I guess we all have to start somewhere and if we all can make one small change we may just have a shot at saving this wonderful planet that we live on.

Susan Froome is Marketing Co-ordinator at Mitsubishi Electric