Christmas All Wrapped Up

Christmas is a magical time of year but don’t let it be a wasteful one as well! We can produce up to 30% more waste during the festive season! We’ve put together some information to help you have a greener Christmas this year, and many ideas save your pocket too. 


It’s not long at all until those advent calendars will be counting down to Christmas, so how about doing something different this year? Buy a reusable calendar and fill it with sweets or chocolate without individual wrapping or make the sweets yourself. Or try a reverse calendar: add one food item each day and donate to a local food bank instead. 

If you do have a conventional advent calendar with chocolates, separate any plastic and card before you put in in your blue recycling bin or clear bags.

Christmas food

Without doubt the biggest waste at this time of year is all that uneaten food. Meal planning and portion sizing is the key, so you only buy what you need. It’s sounds obvious, but we make our own traditions, so buy what you like and enjoy it! If sprouts aren’t your thing, have the veg you like instead. Want to stick to the cheese board, or have sandwiches or beans on toast? You do it your way – the day is meant to be enjoyed. 

Turkey is a large bird and will take a long time to roast – 35- 40 minutes per kilogram – as well as leave a lot of bones to dispose of. If you don’t have lots of guests, or if the leg meat isn’t popular, speak to your butcher about a turkey crown, which is just breast meat. Bones can be recycled in your food caddy.  And, if you're entertaining avoid throw away cardboard and plastic plates and cutlery. 

If you do have any leftovers, then check out Love Food, Hate Waste which has loads of tips on using up and storing leftovers (and minimising them in the first place by portion control and menu planning). From spicy soups to Christmas pudding fondants, they have loads of delicious recipes, including make ahead ideas for a more relaxing Christmas Day.

Make a list of what to buy and stick to it, taking into account your meal planning. Make sure you store your leftovers in reusable containers and avoid cling film and foil and if you’ve still got loads left, put it in the freezer instead!

Food doesn’t need to travel hundreds of miles to get to your plate. Buy your Christmas produce from local farms, markets and zero-waste shops, like Filling Good, Maidenhead and Zero Joes, Windsor. Not only are they greener and fresher, they are tasty too! Get your Christmas spuds and veg delivered using a ‘vegetable box delivery’: less packaging, delicious and locally sourced. You can also pre-order in many places to take the stress out of any last-minute shopping.

Top tip: Don’t forget your reusable bags and cups when out and about doing your Christmas shopping. Our top tip for this year, if you’re visiting a Christmas market, take your reusable bags whilst gift shopping and your coffee cup for your mulled wine instead! 


Decorative imageBuy recycled this year! Make all that recycling this year count: look for and buy products made from recycled material. Here are a few ideas to buy your recycled party wear or a great recycled gift!

Keep your gift miles low by supporting our local shops and small businesses. The Craft Coop has branches in Windsor and Maidenhead selling artisan and handcrafted gifts.

Alternatively, you could get crafting and make your own gifts. From sweets and treats, preserves or anything that you’ve made. Put them in a clean glass jar and decorate using up old fabric and ribbons, or put baking in a tin that can be reused. 

You could hold a gift-swapping party to swap your party clothes with your friends. If you’re not sure what someone might like, try a gift experience or voucher instead. 

Buying for lots of people? Go Sorted Santa! Instead of everyone buying and receiving lots of smaller gifts, put names in a hat and buy just one large gift to a budget everyone agrees on. You can give your person some ideas – that way you save time and get something you want. 

Wrapping and card

Decorative imageNow you’ve bought your gifts, avoid wrapping in glittery or plastic/foil paper that can’t be recycled. You could make your own beautiful wrapping for your gifts using paper, string, old fabrics and left-over ribbons or buttons. Decorate with anything left over, or even foraged from the garden. Get creative and do your bit for the planet! Involve the whole family too. 

If not, choose paper-only wrapping and cards, and avoid anything coated in plastic or glitter. Only use a small amount of Sellotape.. It’s easier to open too, especially for little fingers! Or reuse a gift bag from last year, and make sure you save any to reuse next year Instead of cards, send an E-Christmas card or E-voucher instead! 


You can get reusable crackers that you can fill with items you actually want – choose small gifts that are not made of plastic. Seeds, bee bombs, small soaps make nice cracker fillers – don’t forget to write a cheesy joke to include too! 

Choose decorations with the least packaging, least plastic and preferably that will last for years.
Many outlets sell decorations made of natural materials now, like wood or dried fruits. You could try and make your own, like a paper chain or paper snowflakes. Visit your local craft shop for ideas, which also make fun crafts for the kids to enjoy. 

Choose electrical items with a plug instead of batteries or buy rechargeable batteries if you can.  Fairy lights really make the mood; most are LED lights these days, but if you do have an old set of incandescent bulbs, it’s advisable to replace them. LED fairy lights are 80% more energy efficient than filament bulbs and are more durable – no delicate filaments that can break. They are also cooler to run, emitting most of their energy as light rather than heat. 

Artificial trees are full of plastic, but they aren’t single use. If carefully packed away and looked after, they can be used year after year, which will save you money in future years. If you prefer a real tree, don’t forget to recycle it in the New Year. Look out for our recycling locations this year or put it out with your garden waste bin if you have one. Tree must fit inside the bin. 

Top festive recycling tips:

  1. Save space at home by dropping items at your local recycling centre.
  2. Flatten cardboard boxes before recycling to save room in the recycling bin. Clean and crush cans and plastic bottles too. 
  3. Remove ribbons, bows and other adornments before recycling wrapping paper.
  4. Remove all food from card and paper packaging before recycling.
  5. Do the scrunch test with your wrapping paper! If it scrunches, it is made of paper, if it doesn’t - it’s plastic!

Find out more information about reusing and reducing waste.

Waste and recycling team : Contact details

For further information, please contact us by:

Waste Management Unit - Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
Town Hall, St Ives Road
Maidenhead SL6 1RF
Telephone: 01628 683800