The festive period brings with it a huge rise in the amount of single-use plastics. Everything from decorations, to wrapping and even some of the food on your Christmas table.
Here at the University of Hull we are asking everyone to take a pledge about reducing their plastic waste at Christmas by providing simple, easy and affordable ways to help minimise plastic waste in the home. Our 12 Days of Plastic-Free Christmas will run from December 1-12 and include, fun and easy to do swaps this Christmas.
The beginning of the festive period is often marked by the exchanging of Christmas cards, and in the UK over 1 bn are sold every year – this is enough for 17 for every person in the country.
While most Christmas cards will come packed together in boxes, 100 million individually-packaged Christmas cards are sold every year and these will often come wrapped in a non-recyclable plastic film. On top of this, many of the cards are embellished with plastic, usually in the form of sparkly glitter (more on this in a later blog) or more complex components like speakers.
But this post is not just about cards, but also card. Through the gifts we exchange and food we buy we will get through a staggering 300,000 tonnes of cardboard packaging over Christmas. You could gift wrap 260,000 Big Bens with that amount. Card is easily recycled and is sourced from sustainable woodlands it makes a far less damaging alternative to plastic for keeping our gifts undamaged before unwrapping, but if it has been decorated with glitter, bows, and ribbons made of plastic then these parts can’t be recycled.
One way you can help is to make sure as much of the card you use goes into the recycling as possible, and not in the bin for landfill or incinerator. If you have card or cards which have been decorated with plastic then tear off unaffected parts and recycle those and make sure the plastic goes in the bin. Putting the whole thing into recycling risks the whole item being diverted to landfill or incinerator and will increase the costs for recycling services for your local authority.
Recycling in the UK varies across the country but your local authority will have information and advice on recycling on their website.
However, a much more effective, cost-saving and personalised way to send cards is to make them yourself.
You will need
- Some recycled plain card, which is cheap
- Buy some water-based Ink Pads and stamps or coloured pens, crayons or paint
- Use your imagination and make some festive, personalised, Christmas cards
Authors: Katie Parsons and Chris Skinner
What's your plastic pledge?