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Go a little greener this Christmas

Updated: Dec 13, 2018

According to Biffa, the UK creates 30 per cent more waste than usual over the festive period, throwing away more than 277,000 miles of wrapping paper - enough to stretch to the moon (!), and sending over 100 million bags of rubbish to landfill.

We're not happy about this. And our guess is that you aren't either? So, thanks to our fabulous Community Champions, we've compiled a list of tried and tested tips to inspire you - our Waste Warriors, to take a stand against the crazy consumption that is tainting our Christmas cheer!

From plastic-free hacks, to simple tips to reduce food waste and homemade gift ideas - however big or small, these are the changes that can make a difference!


If you like a traditional Christmas but hate the waste, why not try making your own wreath. Fun and satisfying!

Here's a how-to from Community Champion Susanna...

"I picked some flexible shoots - the basic circle was made from Hazel saplings from the Common, but you could use wire for the base.

I then wound the shoots into a circle secured with wire and threaded holly sprigs, ivy, cut off bits of Christmas tree and some decorated pine cones etc onto the wreath and finished with a spare bit of red ribbon. I think the finished article looks pretty good.

There is lots of advice and videos on Youtube and Pinterest on how to do a more sophisticated one, and it is easy to take apart and I kept the hazel circle for re-use this year."


Save your Christmas cards from the year before and then re-use them as gift tags by cutting out the pictures on the front, hole punching and then threading through some ribbon or string.


Try shopping local - there's a Wimbledon farmers market on every Saturday and the Love Wimbledon market at weekends. It helps reduce packaging for shipping and supports local business.


Go on your very own Christmas treasure hunt to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. You'll bag a bargain and your well earned pennies will go towards the many great causes in need of your support. Charity shops are great for DVDs and books.


Share (and show off) your talents! Knit some socks or offer to teach a special skill - perhaps photography if you're nifty with a camera.


Gift experiences such as a meal, tickets (theatre, cinema, sports, concerts), workshops (cooking class - Lu-Ma café offers these, bread making, cocktail making, photography etc).

If you still want them to have something to open or extra fun in giving, try hiding vouchers in several boxes, padding it out with newspaper, a hot or cold hunt or turn it into a decoration you hide on the tree


When ordering items on the internet, ask for no plastic packaging. If we ask, businesses will have to listen!


Buy low-waste lifestyle gifts such as reusable Tupperware, water bottles, coffee cups, beeswax wraps, bamboo cutlery etc.

Take a look at our plastic-free picks for ideas and find out more about our #PlasticFreeMerton campaign here.


Be a star baker this Christmas and cook up delicious edible treats for the lucky ones in your life - such as jams, chutneys, gingerbread in reusable glass jars.


UK adults are given a shocking £2.6bn worth of unwanted Christmas gifts each year!

Why not break this wasteful cycle and make a voucher booklet with things like "1 breakfast in bed", "1 hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows", "choose the film to watch", "choose dinner", "nails painted for you", or "kids get to choose Dad's outfit for the day"...

Elfless Acts - Join the Kindness Revolution

Gift your own #elflessacts & send them to your friends & family in just a few clicks, to give more fun and less stuff - helping your pocket and the planet along the way.

By focusing on things that we know make us happy (time with friends, new experiences, exploring the great outdoors etc) you can create amazing gifts for friends and families.

Visit for inspiration


Surprise a friend or loved one with a subscription to their favourite app - such as Spotify or Calm (the meditation app).


LUSH offer packaging free solid products such as bath bombs, shower cremes, body butters shampoos, conditioners, facial soap etc. You could make your own pamper kit!

"I've been impressed by the LUSH solid shampoo and conditioner! Bonus points for being so compact to transport to the gym and I think they will last me longer than liquid forms as it avoids extravagantly sized squirts." - Rachel


Take a look at sustainable gifting sites such as


Use fabric instead of wrapping paper for Christmas presents is a great way of cutting down on waste paper.

Vintage scarfs from charity shops can become part of the gift as well, or else fabric scraps can be bought cheaply online. The fabric can then be reused for presents in future.


A great natural Christmas decoration can be made from pinecones. It's fun to go out on a walk to hunt for them, and they can be used as decorations in themselves or attached to homemade wreaths and table pieces.

Alternatively, if you attach googly eyes, cardboard ears, a red pompom nose and a loop of thread at the top they can be turned into reindeer decorations for the tree!


Snuggle up under cosy jumpers and blankets rather than turn the heating up.


It is a really good to plan what you are having food wise on the day and for hosting any parties, so that there isn't lots of food left over and that is potentially wasted.

Know how many people you are cooking for, make a list, and buy accordingly.


If you suspect you have bought too much food, donate it to a local foodbank (ideally before Christmas day).

Your donations help to ensure that local families have access to balanced, nutritious food. Wimbledon Foodbank and Merton Faith in Action both accept food donations, so please check their websites to find out which items are needed right now and where to them drop off.


Cook what you and your family really enjoy rather than cooking perhaps things which are traditional that no one really likes!! Sprouts anyone? ; )


Try out some veggie dishes and different ways to give new life to your leftovers.

Love Food Hate Waste have some great ideas to stop those spuds and sprouts from going to waste: 'The Christmas Chart That Really Matters: Top Five Tips to Make the Most of Your Festive Food'


Feeling well and truly stuffed? Step away from the bin, download the free OLIO Food Sharing app and list any of your excess food for friends and neighbours to collect.

Community Champion Alice has been testing out the app... find out how she's getting on here.


Avoid plastic coated wrapping paper that can't be recycled and recycle all other wrapping where possible. Don't forget to salvage the pieces that can be used again next year!


Turning the heating down 1 degree Celsius and wearing an extra (Christmas!) jumper can save energy and reduce heating bills.


Check your council website for details of Christmas tree collections.

After Christmas, you can take your real Christmas tree to Merton's recycling centre in Morden, or Merton Council will collect it free of charge. Find out more...

With your waste-free celebrations (sustainably) wrapped up, all that's left for us to do is wish you all a very Merry Christmas!


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