We’re all familiar with that black bin bag filled with wrapping paper after everyone opens their presents on Christmas morning.
But had you ever thought about how much we actually throw away at this time of year.
As we become more and more conscious of what we put in the bin, particularly in terms of plastic, should we be doing more to reduce our rubbish?
According to research, we threw away 108 million rolls of wrapping paper last year.
One mum, Jemma Morris, 27, from Fareham, Hampshire, is aiming to have a low-waste Christmas, reusing old paper and making presents that she packages herself.
She has been trying to live a more eco-friendly life since her daughter was born 18 months ago.
‘In general I’m trying to consume less. I’ve always been quite likely environmentally conscious but when I had my little girl the need to safeguard the future for her became overwhelming,’ she told Metro.co.uk
‘The main issue with our lifestyle at the minute is we are a throwaway culture, because we’ve had the advantages of more and more disposable items at our fingertips.
‘Obviously there are some people that need these things, that these items have been created for, but the majority of people don’t so I started by making easy swaps – making sure I always have a water bottle and flask on me, having reusable shopping and produce bags with me at all times and trying to be as little packaged items as possible.
‘Then I moved on to looking at my waste more closely and trying to find swaps for the main problem areas. Ecobricking really helped with that as I can investigate my waste as I put it in the brick.
‘I swapped to solid shampoo and conditioner bars and use a soap bar in a famine bag instead of shower gel and a scrubby. I switched to reusable menstrual products (a cup and pads) and bought toothpaste tabs.
‘We started using cloth nappies and reusable wipes for my little girl and I’m making a conscious effort to bake more with her rather than succumbing to plastic coated snacks.
‘And then I make an effort to recycle what I can as responsible as I can, so signed up for as many relevant Terracycle schemes as I could.’
So when it came to Christmas this year, Jemma realised that it was one of the most wasteful periods and she wanted to cut down.
As I love Christmas, I was eager to try and minimise the worst of it – the waste – ad much as I could in whatever way I could. Plus it seemed to be the logical step as I was naturally veering towards homemade gifts that I was making with my little girls ‘assistance’.
‘Less is more, 100%. I used to fall into the trap of I have to look like I’m giving a gift, so instead of buying something extra to go with a gift card I am just giving the person I’m buying for what they have asked for.
‘I’ve been making a lot of gifts like tree decorations: salt dough ornaments, modge podged wooden ornaments; buying experience gifts or preloved gifts; buying from small, local businesses rather than big stores.’
And when it comes to wrapping her gifts, Jemma has been focusing on using up what paper she has left before looking at recyclable, homemade wrapping paper and reusable wrapping.
A lot of wrapping paper is covered in dyed, laminated, covered in glitter or plastic shapes, which means it can’t be recycled. Even if it is recyclable, using plastic tape makes it more difficult.
Jemma adds: ‘For wrapping paper I’ve been using up the paper I bought last year and then won’t be buying anymore as so much wrapping paper cannot be recycled.
‘Instead of wrapping paper I’ve been using brown paper and packing paper that I’ve either left plan or got my daughter to draw on it to decorate it.
‘I’ve bought reusable gift bags so that the recipient can use them again and again without worrying that they will rip, and have experimented with furoshiki wrapping, which is a Japanese art of wrapping gifts in material.
‘I reuse Christmas cards as gift bags or I pass them on to my mum who makes her own cards with them.
And when it comes to decorations? Jemma has also planned for the future.
She says: ‘We have an artificial tree that we have had for 8 years so we are going to keep using it until it completely falls to pieces rather than buying anything new.
‘Our lights are LED bulbs that are only on for short periods of time or are solar panel lights outside. Mostly we are reusing what we have to get maximum use out of everything.’
For Jemma, the experience has been really positive and it’s something she wants to expand on in the future.
‘It was definitely more straight forward than I thought, although difficult to resist all the Christmas bargains.
‘But it has taken the stress out of all of it, because I’m truly buying what people want and we’re not stressing out under too high a mountain of stuff or running around buying last minute bits.
‘I would like to make more of my gifts next year, and save up anything that can be used to wrap them in throughout the year.
‘I also am going to start shopping earlier so I have time to source more ethical shopping locations.
‘Obviously for some people that may be harder/impossible to do, depending on what they want! I’ll also be involving my daughter more next year as she’ll be two-and-a-half so will be more able to help out with crafting.’