Five top tips beat the bin bag bulge and cut down on plastic this Christmas

Easy and effective ideas

In my household, Christmas is usually accompanied by bin bags full of wrapping paper, plastic cracker toys and all manner of glitter and tinsel. If you're trying to reduce plastic waste at Christmas, or just avoid the bulging bin bags, Tombola has rounded up a few tips to help keep plastic to a minimum.

Related: Christmas Eve box ideas – the festive tradition making the night before magical

In the UK approximately 100 million black bags full of packaging from toys and gifts are discarded each year. That's not to mention the 1 billion Christmas cards that contain plastic and glitter that will go in the bin after Christmas.

Here are five ways to reduce plastic waste at Christmas:

1. Swap to brown paper

table with gift boxes

(Image credit: Ti-Media)

Sparkly wrapping paper dripping in glitter, with a foil finish and plastic laminate coating can be so tempting. However, while it might look festive it is often unrecyclable.

Why not try wrapping papers in brown paper tied with a string instead of sticky tape? Add a sprig of holly or eucalyptus will give your present a rustic and traditional feel. Better yet skip the need to throw anything out by wrapping in a pretty patterned cloth you can reuse.

2. Make an advent calendar

Instead of buying an advent calendar which usually has chocolate hidden in plastic behind a cardboard door, why not make your own?

You can buy little wooden drawer sets from hardware or hobby-craft store and paint them. Alternatively, if you're not feeling creative you can buy a reusable advent calendar.

Simply fill with chocolates for your little one to open and enjoy during the countdown.

3. Ditch the chocolates for reusable gifts

Christmas is the perfect time to encourage your family to ditch single-use plastic through the medium of gifts.

Ditch the box of chocolates of bubble bath encased in plastic in favour of a reusable water bottle, coffee mug or food container. Perfect gifts for commuters or those who take their lunch to work.

room with wooden basket on table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

4. Make your own Christmas crackers

Christmas crackers might be one of our favourite parts of Christmas dinner, but they are also a triple threat. Wrapped in plastic, decorated with glitter and usually containing a plastic toy that will end up in the bin by the 26th.

Instead, make your crackers. Some companies make reusable versions. You can also pick up plastic-free crackers made out of brown kraft paper at Hobbycraft.

5. Ditch tinsel for paper chains

room with wooden hanging star

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Tinsel and glitter laden baubles may contribute to all that glitters and shines during the festive season. However, homemade and natural decorations can be just as jolly and kinder to the environment.

Ditch tinsel in favour of threaded cranberries and paper chains. Foraged woodland finds such as holly and evergreen branches look gorgeous scattered around the house.

Related: We're dreaming of a green Christmas this year

Will you be trying out any of these tips to reduce plastic waste at Christmas?

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.