Top 10 tips for preventing waste at Christmas

West Sussex County Council’s Recycling and Waste Team is sharing their top ten tips for preventing waste at Christmas


Release date: 21 December 2020

With wrapping paper, cards, excess food and bottles to deal with, it’s no surprise that more recycling and waste is generated at Christmas than any other time of year.

So, to help, West Sussex County Council’s Recycling and Waste Team is sharing their top ten tips for preventing waste at Christmas.

  1. Make your own personal presents. Shop bought Christmas presents often come inside lots of unnecessary packaging. There’s still time to make homemade gifts like biscuits, jams, or keepsakes which are far less wasteful and can be more meaningful to those who receive them. For homemade gift ideas, visit our recycling website and click on ‘’waste and recycling campaigns’.
  2. Choose wrapping paper carefully – make your own or do the scrunch test. Did you know that not all wrapping paper can be recycled? Check our website for ways to make your own Christmas wrapping paper. If you’re not sure when you unwrap presents, do the ‘scrunch test’. If the wrapping papers stays scrunched, put it in your recycling bin, if it springs open again then unfortunately it can’t be recycled.
  3. Plan your meals. Remember to make a list when shopping and take your own reusable shopping bags to avoid buying too much and bringing home excess packaging. Christmas is a time when we all like to indulge, but meal planning can make a big difference when it comes to food waste.
  4. Don’t waste cardboard packaging. If online shopping, remember to recycle items such as cardboard. Make sure it isn’t wet when you put it in your recycling bin. If it’s too big to fit, tear it up into smaller pieces and ensure your bin lid is closed. Packaging such as padded envelopes and bubble wrap unfortunately cannot be recycled, but could be reused.
  5. Compost Your Peelings. If you have a garden, why not get a compost bin? By keeping a container in the kitchen to collect your fruit and veg peelings for composting you could reduce your waste by up to 10%. You can also compost eggshells, raw fruit, vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds, shredded paper and cardboard. Find out more on composting.
  6. Re-use ribbons and gift bags. When recycling gift paper, remember to remove any ribbons and bows. Consider whether these and any gift bags you receive could be reused next year? Not only will it reduce waste – it will save you buying more next Christmas!
  7. Eat Your Leftovers. Forget boring turkey sandwiches, why not try a curry or a pie with your leftovers? For recipe ideas to use up leftovers and more help reducing food waste, visit our waste reduction web pages
  8. Twelfth night. When taking down your decorations store then carefully for reuse next year. If your lights are lifeless, please don’t place them in your kerbside collections, take them to your local Household Waste Recycling Site (HWRS) and pop them in the electrical container. You could also give Christmas cards a new lease of life by cutting them up and turning them into gift tags for Christmas 2021.
  9. Remember to recycle. If you’re unsure what can be recycled in your kerbside collection, check out our A to Z of recycling website and remember items should be clean, dry, and loose. Clean - free from food and drink leftovers. Dry - keep your recycling bin lid shut. Loose - not tied up in plastic bags.
  10. Don’t throw away your Christmas tree. If you have a garden waste collection through your local district or borough council, check their website for details on recycling real trees, or take the tree to you nearest HWRS, otherwise you can check locally for charity collections.

Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Small changes can make a really big difference when it comes to protecting the environment. This has been a really tough year for most people, but it’s shown that when we all work together, our individual actions can have a big impact. I would encourage residents to start taking these positive steps this Christmas to help reduce their waste.”

For more information and advice about reducing waste, visit our recycling pages.

For regular updates, information and advice about protecting the environment, sign up for our latest Environment and Climate Change and West Sussex Recycles e-newsletters.

Important seasonal messages will be shared on our social media channels this winter, please follow West Sussex County Council on Facebook @WestSussexCC and Twitter @WSCCNews and look out for #WinterReady posts.

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