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Get your waste-free Christmas all wrapped up with NLWA's handy tips

Dec 13, 2012
Did you know that the amount of wrapping paper thrown away in the UK at Christmas could stretch around the world nine times? This Christmas, NLWA is encouraging residents to reduce their yuletide waste and save money at the same time.

Paper and card makes up a significant proportion of waste from north London households and at Christmas this really shoots up.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority, said: "Most of us notice just how much waste we produce at Christmas more than any other time of year. Recycling is a great way of dealing with a lot of this waste, but preventing the waste in the first place is even better for the environment, for your council, and most importantly, the pound in your pocket.

These handy tips will reduce the amount of waste you have to throw away and save you money too – leaving more to put toward the mince pies and mulled wine."

NLWA’s top waste-free Christmas tips:

1. Christmas cards

Send e-cards instead. A range of these can be found free of charge on popular websites including Ecards, Hallmark and The Woodland Trust. E-cards are available throughout the year and cover many other occasions including birthdays and anniversaries.

If you’re not quite ready to switch to e-cards, why not make your own Christmas cards for this year or next year with materials that would otherwise be thrown away? Try cutting up last year’s Christmas cards and using other materials such as pieces of shiny card from packaging and images from magazines. Used Christmas cards and off-cuts of brightly coloured card can also be used to make quick and easy gift tags. Save envelopes and reuse them with reuse labels, available from many charity catalogues and shops.

2. Christmas decorations

Choose decorations that can be reused. Buy a UK grown real tree with roots that you can plant in your garden or keep in a pot for next year. Artificial trees are even better as they can be used many, many times, and with care will last forever.

Many shiny, metallic wrapping papers can’t be recycled, but they are perfect for making your own Christmas decorations for next year. To watch some easy-to-follow videos, visit

3. Presents

Avoid goods that involve unnecessary packaging, and buy food and drink packaged in materials that can be recycled. Try to avoid buying or requesting gifts that rely on disposable parts, including batteries (or use rechargeable batteries). If you're not sure what to buy, why not give money or gift vouchers? For more ideas, log onto Gift wrapping

Wrapping paper accounts for a huge amount of waste at Christmas, so try out types of wrapping that are reused and/or reusable to avoid piles of paper on Christmas day.

Wrapping paper accounts for a huge amount of waste at Christmas, so try out types of wrapping that are reused and/or reusable to avoid piles of paper on Christmas day.
  • Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper; they are durable, easy to use and can be used again and again.
  • Try the old fashioned trick of wrapping presents in newspaper and give it a modern look by finishing it off with a brightly coloured ribbon.
  • If you have spare scarves or squares of fabric, try out the Japanese wrapping technique ‘furoshiki’ to give your gifts a quality finish. This method has the added benefit of being two gifts in one – the present and the scarf. Follow our step-by-step instructions

For more information, and more handy hints on how to reduce your waste and save money, visit our website at

Seen anything that you think is excessively packaged? Send us a pic at