3 December 2020
After a challenging year like this one, some of us can’t wait to enjoy a much-deserved Christmas break with our loved-ones. But there’s an unwanted guest in every household that leaves our landfills as full as our bellies: plastic!
During the Christmas season, there is a peak of a 30% increase in plastic use. That includes plastic packaging, products, and presents, according to The Conversation. Only in the United Kingdom, at least 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging are thrown away and not recycled during the festive season, according to the calculations by Wildlife and Countryside Link. What’s more, 88 km2 of wrapping paper, often made with plastic films or glitter, is used at Christmas in the United Kingdom. What if we combined all the wrapping paper from all other countries in Europe? This plastic and paper combination makes it impossible to recycle, leaving us with mounts of plastic waste at the end of the festivities.
An excellent alternative to plastic wrapping paper is craft paper. You can also avoid all wrapping paper with glitter and other plastic decorations for your presents. Add paper tape instead of plastic and bring your plastic footprint to the minimum! Considering that these presents will be wrapped in plastic for only a few hours, is it worth polluting the environment forever with its waste?
Christmas jumpers & plastic trees
According to Hubbub’s research, almost all Christmas jumpers are made wholly or partly of plastic materials, such as polyester or acrylic. The latter is the most used material for Christmas jumpers, with 44% of them made entirely of it. Not just jumpers, but dresses, blouses, and other partywear is made of synthetic materials. Clothing made of plastic, when worn and washed, clothing made of plastic, they release microfibers into the air and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants can’t filter them, so they end up in our oceans forever.
Avoid buying a new Christmas jumper this year and consider reusing the one you bought last year. Slow fashion is trendy!
Where does all this plastic madness happen? Around a magical plastic Christmas tree! Artificial Christmas trees are usually made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic infamous for being nearly impossible to recycle. What’s worse, PVC can contain dangerous chemical additives which may leach out and be toxic to our health. What to do to avoid that? Adopt a tree instead! There are great initiatives out there, like BeterBoompje or Adopteer Een Kerstboom in the Netherlands. Try to find initiatives like these in your country.
Give the planet a gift, reduce your plastic footprint
Besides all the tips we already outlined above, it is essential to be mindful of the presents we buy. Do I really need this? Can I gift an experience instead?
Try to minimize your plastic footprint during these holidays by being aware of the plastic decorations, cutlery, shopping, and look for a sustainable alternative. Join our Plastic Free Holidays Challenge for inspiration! You can find it on our My Little Plastic Footprint app, the app to limit your exposure to plastic while also reducing your plastic footprint.
We know that it’s not easy to escape the plastic tsunami during these festivities, but take it one step at a time. It’s 2020, after all. And we all need a break, and so does the environment.
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