This Christmas, cut back on spending and waste

Christmas is a time to rejoice, but in the frenzy of last-minute shopping, excessive consumption, and waste, its genuine meaning can be lost. As the cost of living crisis bites, experts share their advice on how to save costs and waste while still having a good time.

1. Agree on gift-giving in advance

The quandary of what to get for that person who constantly buys you things comes with Christmas. So many of us feel pressured into buying gifts for a growing list of extended family, friends, and colleagues. However, financial expert Martin Lewis advises against "tit-for-tat" giving.

Expert on carbon footprints, Prof Mike Berners-Lee, concurs, suggesting rather setting a spending cap or a Secret Santa, which can be a lot of fun.

2. Reduce food waste

Every holiday meal includes at least one dish that no one likes but you always purchase or a dessert that you were simply too full to consume.

“Food is one area where it's easy to economize without Christmas feasting being any less joyful,” says Helen Bird of the waste reduction organisation, Wrap.

She advises buying just what is necessary and making sure leftovers are consumed.

Also, consider making your Christmas feast plant-based to be kinder to the environment. Berners-Lee claims that “the science is fairly clear cut. We need to cut back on the consumption of meat and dairy products.”

3. Make fewer but longer trips

Travelling back home for Christmas might result in a sizable carbon footprint, or as Berners-Lee refers to them, “love miles.”

“Time with family is valuable; travel less, but when you do, spend more time with those you love.”

To avoid traffic, he advises beginning trips earlier in the day.

4. Reuse and recycle

You may be left surrounded by a mountain of wrapping paper and heaps of packaging after Christmas. The “scrunch test” is a useful method to determine if the wrapping paper is recyclable, according to Wrap. There is no need to remove adhesive tape from the crumpled paper if it maintains its shape after being scrunched. It cannot be recycled if it reshapes itself. Try to stay away from shiny paper, though. When recycling Christmas cards, Bird advises tearing off any shiny areas because it “wreaks havoc in the paper recycling”.

Glass or plastic ornaments like tinsel and baubles can't be recycled either. Taking good care of what you already have and reusing it, is the most environmentally friendly and economical course of action.

5. Remember the true meaning of Christmas

Both young and old agree that spending time with family over the holiday season is more important than receiving gifts. Fun is the key, according to Berners-Lee.

It's all about enjoying yourself with the people you care about and adore.