Consumer's top tips on reducing, reusing and recycling this festive season
How to reduce, reuse and recycle at Christmas.
By Erin Bennett
Product test writer
Saving wrapping paper is an easy way to reduce waste over the holidays, but what are you going to do with your tree once the festivities are over? Here’s how you can enjoy Christmas and not feel terrible about the environmental effect.
Reduce: This is simple – don’t use any. Hide your present in a bag until gifting time. If you really want the “reveal” factor, wrap gifts up in a tea towel or blanket.
Reuse: Channel your inner nana and save good condition wrapping paper to use next year. If you’re careful, it can be reused many times. You can also create reusable wrapping from clothes the kids have outgrown or remnants from your local fabric store. If you have children, wrap presents in their old artwork for a nice personal touch.
Recycle: Cardboard and paper can be recycled in your kerbside recycling (or at the local transfer station), while plastic depends on if it’s a type your council will accept (usually you can recycle number 1, 2 and 5 plastics). For soft plastics, check if there’s a business near you that collects them for recycling (it’ll usually be a supermarket).
Reduce/reuse: An artificial tree can be used year after year with little “wear”. Or you could consider ditching the tree altogether and instead use string lights to create a tree outline on a wall. Sometimes my family just dresses up the chimney with lights and tinsel in lieu of a tree. If you want a real tree, opt for a potted one, so it can continue to grow between Christmases.
Recycle: If you go for a real Christmas tree and own a wood burner, you can let it dry out over summer and then add it to your firewood pile for winter. Otherwise, check with your council to see if it will recycle your old tree.
Recycle: Eating leftovers on Boxing Day is a time-honoured tradition, but with a bit of creativity you don’t have eat the same thing for days on end.
Here are a few of my favourite leftover “transformations”:
Any meats: Add some eggs, flour and milk and make a quiche or a yummy casserole.
Bread: Leftover bread or rolls that are starting to get a bit stale
are great to turn into a classic bread and butter pudding.
Trifle: My brother-in-law swears by trifle for Boxing Day breakfast.
I prefer to use it as a sweet treat on the go for walks. I spoon leftover trifle into a container, top it with fresh custard and
berries and chill.
Ham: Can be kept for weeks if stored properly. If you want a
hassle-free option, dice and freeze it for use in winter soups.
Reuse: You can also share leftovers with neighbours or community (check your local Facebook page or Neighbourly). For food safety, foodbanks likely won’t take leftovers.
Reduce: If you’re gifting something that needs batteries, throw in a pack of rechargeables. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, as the recipient doesn’t have to keep forking out for new batteries and it’ll help reduce waste over time.
Plates, cutlery and glasses
Reduce/Reuse: Don’t buy disposable plates and cups. Instead, dig into the back of the cupboard and use all your crockery and cutlery. If you need more, pop down to your local op shop and pick up some cheap extras (you can then donate them back later). Otherwise opt for durable plastic plates and cups that you can get multiple uses out of – some are even dishwasher safe.
Reuse: Don’t throw that unwanted gift in the back of a wardrobe to languish. You can donate or sell unwanted gifts. Trade Me is full of great bargains on Boxing Day. Re-gifting shouldn’t be a dirty word, so long as you’re honest with yourself and the person who gave it to you (but if you don’t, make sure you don’t re-gift it back to them).