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The Environmental Impacts Of Christmas

For the past thirty years or so, it has often been questioned as to whether Christmas has turned into a time of gluttony, greed and all-out capitalism.

Of course, the thought is nothing new, but now that more countries and organisations are looking towards sustainability and green innovation, especially after the recent UN Climate Change Conference, we are also starting to investigate the environmental impacts of Christmas.

According to research carried out by Business Waste.trade, everyone’s favourite season can actually be one of the most impactful times of the year for the environment.

It may come as no surprise to learn that Christmas is the time when the UK consumes the most amount of food (up to 80 per cent more), but it is also the time when the most amount of food is wasted, with 230,000 tonnes of it making its way to landfills before the end of the New Year.

flickr | oatsy40This represents the equivalent waste of 74 million mince pies, or two million turkeys – at the price of £275 million.

Christmas food has also been investigated by the University of Manchester, where a study was able to calculate that the nation’s Christmas dinners produced the same carbon footprint of a single car travelling 6,000 times around the world.

This might not be surprising when you find that the average household will spend up to £170 on Christmas food alone – despite 35 per cent of people admitting to throwing away more food at Christmas than any other time of the year.

According to two separate reports, as cited by This Is Money, Britons actually spend double the amount of money at Christmas compared to European counterparts, with each person expected to spend £300-£500 on presents alone this year.

For those on the look out to save money, Which? has just published a very good article on how to tighten the belt this festive season.

What other kinds of waste experience a notable rise during Christmas?

As we all know, at Christmas, our houses are inundated with reams and near forests of wrapping paper and cardboard. In fact, this year, we are expected to throw away more than 227,000 miles of wrapping paper, which is enough to fit around the entire Island of Jersey.

And when you think that it takes as little as 1kg of wrapping paper to produce 3.5kg of carbon dioxide, the impact on the environment is simply staggering.

But the UK isn’t the only country to produce more waste during the Christmas period, as the US also produces 25 per cent more waste than usual during its own celebrations.

But again, there are simple and cost effective ways of reducing wrapping paper waste during the Christmas period – avoiding glossy or laminated wrapping that can’t be recycled is probably the most obvious out of the lot.

flickr | Heart for JapanBut sourcing natural-fibre paper, or using gift bags and boxes that can be reused, is also a nice and environmentally friendly way of ensuring that wrapping waste is kept to a minimum during the festive period.

Although there’s always going to be more waste during the Christmas period, keeping levels to a minimum is important. Caring for the environment is something that needs to happen all year round, not just when we feel like it.

At the same time however, this doesn’t mean that we can’t wrap presents, eat a little more food, or simply enjoy ourselves around Christmas time, but being aware of the consequences is always going to be relevant.

By businesswaste.trade

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