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christmas dinner

12 days of plastic free Christmas: day 12

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 dinner

A glistening golden turkey, pigs-in-blankets, crunchy stuffing, sweet brussels sprouts, steaming red cabbage, crispy parsnips, and a pile of roast potatoes so high it would make a carvery jealous. Throw in a couple of Yorkshire puddings and pour a jug of steaming hot gravy over it…  Indulging in lots of yummy food is a Christmas must.

Britain spent £4.2bn on groceries at Christmas last year with most families visiting a supermarket twice in the final week before the big day.  UK supermarkets sell 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging every year (2), a third of which is not recyclable (3).  Not only does all this packaging add to our growing plastic pollution problems, buying pre-packed fruit and veg often means that we buy more than we need, which might explain why 172 tonnes of sprouts are wasted every Christmas (4)!

One very easy way to reduce your plastic use - and your food waste - by buying fruit and veg loose where possible, and by buying only what you’re likely to use.

Tim Minchin advises us to take our canvas bags to the supermarket, and here we show you a way of turning an old tea-towel into a handy drawstring bag to put loose fruit and veg in when you do those last-minute Christmas shops.

You will need

christmas dinner you will need

  • 1 clean, dry, old tea towel
  • fabric scissors
  • pins or masking tape
  • needle and thread
  • a paperclip or safety pin
  • string or clean, old shoe-laces (makes 2 bags)


  1. Carefully cut off any stitched seams along the edges of the tea towel.  Fold in half and cut into two pieces. 
  2. Make the drawstring channel: fold over the short edges by 2.5 cm, pin or secure masking tape and stitch all the way along each end.
  3. Fold one end over so that the stitched edges are together, with the right sides of the fabric on the inside.
  4. Stitch up either side of the bag from the folded end, being careful to stop short of drawstring channel you stitched earlier.  Repeat along the other side. Trim any loose threads.  If you want to be fancy you can iron the seams before you turn it inside out, but this isn’t essential.  Don’t turn the back the right side out yet.
  5. Now you need two pieces of string (or clean old shoe laces) twice the length of one side of your bag, plus 10cm, and a paperclip or safety pin.  Firmly tie one end of the string to the paperclip/safety pin and poke it all the way through one channel, and then back down the channel on the other side.  Tie the loose ends together in a firm knot.
  6. Repeat for the other piece of string, starting from the opposite side.  You should now have two ends of string at each side of the bag.  Tie the ends together on each side, and you should have a functioning drawstring. 

Repeat with the other piece of tea towel to make two recycled, plastic-free produce bags.  If you want to make two smaller bags out of the remaining piece, just cut it in half again – the same basic pattern works for bags of all different sizes.  Don’t forget to take them with you when you buy your Christmas veg!

christmas dinner final



Author: Kate Smith

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