How to sort your Christmas rubbish

Phew! The madness is over for another year. We’ve eaten all the food, shared all the gifts and laughter and now we’re in the phase of “what day is it?” But there is perhaps one, rather large problem, looming over your household. Being prepared for the Christmas bin collection. Depending on where you are it could be delayed by a day or two due to the bank holidays, but that’s for your local council to let you know when your Christmas bin collection is happening. What we’re going to do today, is organise it, so that you can remove as much rubbish from your home as possible without being wasteful. That’s right, we’re going to reduce, reuse and recycle your Christmas bin collection day.

Christmas rubbish isn’t boring! 

Before you decide that you don’t care for your Christmas rubbish – remember that it’s about helping the planet as well as getting creative. Just because rubbish seems like a boring subject, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Plus, if anything this blog is going to severely help you organise your Christmas bin collection so that when the day comes, you’ll feel like your home is brand new and has had a deep clean all over again.

On a more serious note, Christmas is the most wasteful time of year. It’s far too tempting to grab a rubbish bag and throw everything in it. Not separating your waste because it can’t fit in a certain bin or you have better things to do. We get it. But across the UK, waste increases by 30% over Christmas compared to the rest of the year. So, let’s look at common Christmas waste problems and resolve them before your Christmas bin collection. 

Sorting your Christmas food waste 

One in seven British consumers buys more food than they need at Christmas. In total, we throw away roughly 42 million Christmas dinners each year. Now, we’re not going to get into how painful this is to hear, knowing there are millions of hungry mouths at this time of year who need a decent meal. But how can you sort your Christmas food waste? Make space in your freezer! 

Most of the things you have cooked for Christmas can be frozen. Turkey trimmings, leftover vegetables, gravy – organise your freezer and start freezing. You can slowly defrost over the next few weeks using up every little piece of food making sure nothing gets thrown away.

If you have food that you haven’t cooked yet and it’s still in date, why not speak to your family, friends and neighbours. You could invite them round for a ‘picky tea’ (a dinner or lunch buffet filled with random foods – the whole idea is that none of it needs to go together). Enjoy a few Christmas games together, eat the rest of the food. You could even use some of your leftovers if you’re worried you don’t have enough for everyone. 

If you can’t use your food at home. Donate it. There are plenty of charities that will take your food if you’re not going to use it in time. In fact, Trussel Trust recently reported that the 1.3 million parcels they are handing out is bringing them near to breaking point during the cost of living crisis. More people than ever are relying on food banks. So where you can, donate to local food banks. 

Organising the Christmas packaging waste 

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got kids or not. There’s always lots of Christmas packaging waste over the festive period. It’s one of the biggest things to sort out for your Christmas bin collection. The last thing you want to do is contaminate a bin at Christmas as the additional waste that could be thrown away is huge! So let’s get one thing clear. Don’t rely on the packaging!

Packaging will say ‘widely recycled’ or ‘can be recycled’ with the fine print telling you that you can’t do it at kerbside and instead it needs to go to a specific location. So brush up on your knowledge now. What can you recycle at home? Remember that just because you can recycle Christmas cards – not all of them are recyclable. If it’s got glitter on it, it more than likely cannot be recycled at your kerb. 

Here are some quick generic rules that we know work for most areas, but do double check with your local Christmas bin collection service: 

  • Non-foil wrapping paper can be recycled but remove any Sellotape! Scrunch it in a ball, if it holds its shape, recycle it. 
  • Cut a Christmas card in half. Recycle the back if the front is covered in glitter. 
  • Flatten and recycle cardboard boxes to make more space. Removing all packaging tape first. 
  • In most places, you cannot recycle cellophane, so try and reuse it where you can. 
  • Ribbons can’t be recycled. Save them for another time. 
  • Keep all gift bags and reuse them next year. 
  • Anything unwanted, donate to another child or save for a regift later in the year. 
  • The one packaging material that cannot be recycled at all is polystyrene! Don’t let it contaminate your bin. 

When is your Christmas bin collection?

After you’ve sorted your Christmas food and packaging, there isn’t much left to organise. It might seem like a huge task, cleaning up Christmas, but ultimately it involves a freezer, a buffet, donations and knowing what you can and can’t recycle – saving as much as possible for reuse. That’s all you need to do in order to reduce your impact on the environment this year. Remember, we’re wanting to prevent as much as possible from going in our bins. Just because you can recycle your Christmas cards, doesn’t mean you should. Cut them up and reuse them as gift tags throughout the year. Think outside the box and see what you can salvage and reuse for another day. 

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