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Christmas recycling

Christmas can be a costly time for households, local councils and for the environment.

Most households generate more waste than usual at Christmas and with many of us set to spend even more time at home than we normally would this year, it’s easy to see how you could end up with an overflowing bin.

But help is at hand. Here are some ideas for how you can enjoy the festive season without costing the earth. If you have any ideas to share we’d love to hear them. Please email

During the countdown to Christmas

Go greener

Buy recyclable Christmas cards, gift tags and wrapping paper without foil, glitter, bows, musical features and foil as these materials contaminate the recycling process.

Swap sticky tape for low-tack Washi tape which is a decorative masking tape or use ribbon and string to secure your wrapping.

Buy or make fabric napkins for your festive dinner table instead of paper as they can be washed and used again.

Buy reusable Christmas crackers that slide open instead of tear and fill with your own gifts or make your own with loo roll inners, brown paper and your own gifts

Buy presents that contain recycled content such as glass tableware, stationery or photo frames.

Looking for the perfect present for a green-fingered friend or relative? Buy one of our compost bins or water butts at special prices.

If you have a plastic tree keep using it as it takes around 10 uses to have a lower carbon footprint than a real one.

Check out charity shops for gifts.

Buy a rooted Christmas tree that you can use year after year.

Buy gift experiences such as theatre, cinema or concert tickets, days out rather than more stuff.

Make your own and save money

UK households spend an average of £25 on decorations each Christmas, so you could save money by making your own. Or if you’re giving your tree a new look this year why not try giving some of your old decorations a makeover.

Save your old glass jars from pasta sauces and jam. You can fill them with favourite sweets or homemade chutney or preserve and decorate as Christmas gifts.

Love your clothes

There may not be much call for party wear this year, but you could jolly things up with a Christmas jumper. Jazz up an old knit or reuse your existing Christmas special! There could even be a prize for the best one. Get the whole family involved – even those that you’re connecting with virtually on the big day.

Be a savvy food shopper to cut waste as well as your bill

We’re more likely to waste food at Christmas than at any other time of year. And this year might be even harder to gauge how much food to buy if you’re cooking for less people than usual.

Plan what you need

With so many tempting treats in the shops it’s easy to buy too much so this year, more than ever, take the time to check your cupboards, fridge and freezer before shopping to avoid buying more than you need. Love Food Hate Waste has a portion control calculator or you can download the free app.

Think back to last year and try to remember what went unused. That family pack of coleslaw, that multitude of dips, those 'just in case' bread rolls that went off? If you didn’t need them last year, it’s unlikely you’ll need them this year.

Clear out your freezer

Use up stuff from the freezer now to make space for festive fodder. And if you like to make your own, you can always make a few items to freeze to save you time at Christmas, like bread sauce, stuffing, sausage rolls.

Know your turkey

A 2kg bird will feed 3 to 4 people, a 4kg bird will feed 5 to 6 and a 6kg bird will feed 8 to 9. Would a turkey crown or a couple of turkey breasts be enough rather than buying a whole bird?

Advice for shopping online

Check the dates as you unpack so you don’t get caught out by items going out of date. Remember 'Use-by' means food must be eaten by this date, or frozen to keep things for longer. 'Best before' is for quality only so food is still safe to eat after this date.

Check the fridge temperature

If it’s too high food can perish quickly. It should be 5°C or less all year round and it's worth double checking at Christmas as fridges are likely to be fuller and having to work harder to stay at the right temperature. If you are unsure how to adjust your fridge then use this fridge tool.

Stock up on reusable containers

Most of your leftovers will keep for up to two days when wrapped in the fridge or popped in the freezer. Keep your food in the correct place to keep it at its best.

  • bread can be kept in a bread bin or cupboard in the original packaging
  • potatoes and onions need to be kept in a cool dark place
  • fruit and vegetables (except potatoes, onions, bananas and whole pineapple) can be kept in the fridge in their original packaging
  • transform leftover turkey into a tasty curry
  • leftover hard cheeses are perfect for freezing
  • freeze any cold meats leftover after Boxing Day and they’ll be ideal for lunch at work in the new year

When reheating food ensure that food is piping hot all the way through before serving.

Take a look at our Christmas leftovers video and recipe cards for more inspiration.

Check out our 50 ways to make food go further campaign and Love Food Hate Waste for food and money saving ideas for throughout the year.

Seasonal recycling collections

The days your recycling will be collected over the festive period can change so check with your local district or borough council and don't forget to recycle cardboard, glass, tins, plastic bottles and paper.

Recycle real Christmas trees by taking them to our household waste recycling centres which are open every day from 8:30am to 6pm except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Or you can put them next to your garden waste bin for composting.

In the new year

Derbyshire’s 23 food banks will welcome any surplus seasonal goodies, tins, packets and long dated items you haven’t got around to eating.

Recycle old electricals, unwanted gifts, and clothes at our recycling centres and local charity shops and furniture projects. You may be able to sell some things online and other things can possibly be mended at your local repair cafe.

Make gift tags from your Christmas cards and paper chains from leftover wrapping paper ready for next time!