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christmas cracker

12 days of plastic free Christmas: day 10

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.

Christmas crackers (outsides)

They’re an essential part of Christmas in the UK, and for many the Christmas dinner table isn’t complete without a Christmas cracker by everybody’s plate.  The awful jokes, the grumpy teenager ‘losing’ their paper hat, and the random cracker gifts are as much part of the tradition as turkey and mulled wine.  Since the Christmas cracker was invented by Victorian entrepreneur Tom Smith, the market for these festive essentials has grown, with over 150 million Christmas crackers sold last year1

Each of these sets of crackers is sold in its own cardboard and plastic packaging, with many of the crackers themselves made from complex, hard-to-recycle materials which will contain plastic and micro-plastic.  So, what can we do to find a plastic-free alternative to standard Christmas crackers?

  1.  Buy better:  there are a few companies making reusable crackers where the only waste from six of their crackers is cardboard cracker snaps, which can be composted. 
  2. Be plastic-savvy: as our post on wrapping paper showed, there are real issues with recycling fancy papers, especially when foiling and glittering is involved.  So, if you do buy your crackers, look for ones with paper decoration. It is possible – with a little research – to find recycled, recyclable crackers. 
  3. Be creative: as ever, the cheapest and most reliable way of not bringing more plastic into the world is to get busy and make your own.  There are still bricks-and-mortar craft shops that will gladly sell you a bundle of cracker snaps (and you can buy them online too, of course).  You’ll need a stash of clean cardboard tubes (cut-up kitchen roll inners are ideal), some paper and glue, and some instructions, like the ones from House of Crackers2.  


Author: Kate Smith

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